Smartphones on the rise in India; 3G/4G up in Pakistan

Smartphone shipments increased by 23% in India last year, while neighbouring Pakistan gained 16 million new 3G/4G users in 2015.

Around 100 million smartphones have now been sold in India, despite a drop-off in growth in Q4 2015 following a slowdown in demand around November, with sales down 11% on the previous quarter. Over 40% of handsets sold across the year were smart devices; of these, half were 4G-capable.

Samsung leads the market, taking a 25.7% share over 2015, while Micromax takes second place with 16.1%. Both vendors saw their share of the market decrease over the past year - Samsung by 1.8% and Micromax by 2.5% - largely due to increased competition in the $50-$100 price range by local handset manufacturers.

Local firm Intex for example cemented its status as the market’s third-placed smartphone provider, taking a 10.2% share for the full year compared to 4.3% in 2014. However, it was overtaken in Q4 by Lenovo, which edged it out by taking an 11.4% share for the quarter as opposed to Intex’s 9.6%. This gave the Chinese firm a full year share of 8.6%, up from 5.2% the previous year.

Uptake of 4G in India is likely to far more enthusiastic than for 3G due to faster and more extensive network deployments by operators, as well as greater smartphone affordability for consumers. This combination of strong growth and low smartphone penetration has led to a surge in smartphone brnads – there are currently 150 manufacturers selling devices in the market, with around half of the devices sold being manufactured locally.

Pakistan meanwhile saw its overall mobile broadband user base grow to 23.65 million of a total 126 million mobile connections, according to the country’s regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). 3G/4G-enabled connections constitute roughly 19% of this overall total.

The Pakistani market is led by Mobilink, which had a 29% share at the end of Q4. Norwegian firm Telenor takes second place with 28%, followed by Zong with 19%, Ufone with 18% and Warid with 8%. The smallest operator is set to merge with the largest, with the resulting entity cementing its lead of the market with a combined 47 million connections to Telenor’s 34 million.

Zong – which is backed by China Mobile – and Warid are the only operators to offer 4G services, and respectively the firms have 283,000 and 214,000 4G subscribers. While Zong’s coverage extends to all of Pakistan’s major cities, Warid has deployed 4G services in 34 major cities.

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