Chinese brand Xiaomi remained the top vendor, growing 9% with shipments of 13.1 million units, while Samsung regained the second spot from vivo, with 10.2 million units, up 7%. vivo was third with 19% growth and 8.8 million units.
Just behind vivo was realme, with 8.7 million units shipped, with OPPO making up the top five with 6.1 million units.
Canalys analyst Adwait Mardikar said smartphone vendors were definitely bullish. “The government, slowly but surely reducing restrictions on movement after a three-month lockdown, has created the perfect atmosphere for sustained growth," he said.
Research analyst Varun Kannan said: “Ongoing tension between India and China has been a hot topic in the past few months, but we have yet to see a significant impact on purchase decisions of mass market customers.
Chinese vendors together shipped up 76% of shipments in the quarter, up from 74% year-on-year.
Kannan added: “However, the tensions have caused Chinese smartphone brands to act more conservatively in recent months, reducing their marketing spend, and carefully trying to project the image that they are important contributors to, and stakeholders in, the economic future of India.”
Apple gained some momentum in the third quarter, increasing its shipments to about 800,000 units.
“Apple is finally paying attention to India,” said Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi. “It has opened a direct online store, giving it several new angles in its go-to-market strategy, such as utilising device trade-ins to provide purchase incentives, or bundling AirPods with iPhones to make them more appealing.
"However, its new iPhone 12 family will be a tough sell in India this year, as network operators do not yet have the infrastructure for mass-market 5G deployment, erasing a key feature of the devices. Not to forget, Apple’s pricing strategy for its new iPhones in India needs serious consideration.”
Mardikar said the impact of COVID-19 in India had been a dichotomy of sorts. “The lockdown forced most of working India to stay at home and refrain from big-ticket spending on travel, food and beverages, increasing the overall dispensable income," he observed.
"On the other hand, unemployment has risen, impacting the lowest rungs of society most, and affecting the long-term outlook of India’s smartphone market.
"As much of India remains physically disconnected, the smartphone has increasingly become a necessity not only for social connection, but also for entertainment, education, banking, payment and more. Vendors in it for the long run must acknowledge their responsibility in uplifting the country, and helping India emerge out of COVID-19 as swiftly as possible.”