The company said vendors shipped 44.5 million devices in the fourth quarter, growth of 2%, after a much stronger showing in the third quarter.
Chinese vendor Xiaomi was the leader, shipping 9.3 million units (21% market share), while Samsung was second with 8.5 million units (19% share). realme took third spot for the first time with 7.6 million units for a 49% year-on-year increase.
The top five were rounded off by vivo (5.6 million units) and OPPO (4.9 million units) respectively.
"Vendors adapted to the changing environment by focusing on omnichannel, diversifying their supply chains, and expanding their product mix. For example, vendors like realme and Samsung diversified chipset configurations to effectively manage supply.
"realme’s record shipment total was made possible by innovations in planning and stock management which led to good supply of mass-market smartphones such as Narzo 50A and C11.
"At the same time, thanks to the vaccination rollout, market reopening and pent-up demand, smartphone shipments reached all-time highs for the full-year. Growth is expected to continue in 2022, driven by both replacement demand and new customers migrating to smartphones.”
Canalys said competition for market share was heating up as new players entered in the lower end.
“In Q4, low-end players gained momentum,” said Chaurasia. “For example, JioPhone Next, which aims to upgrade feature-phone users via disruptive financing options, made a strong start with several million units sold.
"And on Amazon and Flipkart, Infinix and Tecno efficiently leveraged brand promotional campaigns. They also increased brand recognition on social media platforms. Infinix promoted Esports among India’s youth to highlight its key features, while Tecno used social media influencers."
Chaurasia predicted that India would see a vast digital transformation this year.
“[The year] 2022 will bring 5G spectrum auctions with new radio frequency ranges, and 5G will become significantly more accessible in terms of coverage and price," he said.
"Smartphones capable of 5G will fall further in price amid fierce vendor rivalry, but shipments will be stifled in H1 2022 before the component shortage eases.
"Overall, India will see upward momentum towards future-proof technologies, with smartphones being at the core of the digital ecosystem and growing ever more essential to the daily lives of Indian citizens.”