Bigger, brighter & better future: A new outlook of smartphone evolution for the ‘new bharat’

by December 30, 2019 0 comments

India’s demography is seeing an expansion of its population, especially of the section that lies at the rural-urban crossroads of the country or what we call the Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities.

The young and the restless of this Middle India is on the verge of transformation. They are aspiring, value-seeking, who are shaping India’s consumption-based economy. The approximate 123 million households (that comprise these markets) are expected to drive demand and therefore, the rapid evolution of the smartphone industry in the country.

In the last few years, the country witnessed a paradigm shift from feature phones to smartphones. The leading phone makers, realizing the potential of the non-metros that are fast catching up with the metropolitan cities in terms of usage habits, internet usage, started bolstering their position in the entry level and mid-budget segment, which has led to a lot of movement in the segment.

To cater to their aspirations, the players, as a strategy, started introducing phones that are laden with almost flagship features but aggressively priced, thus making the entire proposition a very attractive one. This business phenomenon revolutionized the smartphone market of India and is expected to continue doing so. In fact, around 43% of the total smartphone sales come from the INR 5K-10K segment & this segment is expected to deliver a maximum contribution to smartphone sales in 2020 as well.

Today, every Indian from every strata of the society wants to have a smartphone. The prime areas of voice, vernacular and video as well as social media and gaming are growing exponentially in the Tier 2, 3 and below markets – the transforming and new progressive Bharat. The people here want a taste of the premium features, yet at an affordable pricing.

In 2019 itself, the entry and mid-budget segments buzzed with new launches, each smartphone packing in flagship features like dot-in display, bigger screens, modern designs, triple cameras with AI capabilities, large batteries, thus narrowing the gap with the premium segment.

In the coming year and onwards, activities in these segments are expected to become even more intense with players competing for a bigger pie. It is anticipated that there will be a flurry of launches at the very beginning of 2020 with the momentum sustaining itself through the year as smartphone makers strengthen their line-ups for the segments with industry-leading innovations and feature-packed products. In other words, there will be a strong intent on part of the leading smartphone players to disrupt the entry level and mid-budget market segments.

Of these disruptive features that will set the trend for the future in these categories, the foremost will be the smartphone screen. As per research and experts, for the people of the aforementioned markets, their smartphones will become their modern-day televisions. Keeping that in mind, the upcoming smartphones will feature large, immersive screens that will set 6.5-inch as the new normal. Moreover, AMOLED HD displays will become more affordable & widely available in budget smartphones for an unfettered outdoor viewing of their favourite movies and shows.

The consumers will also want their smartphones to be an extension of their personality, and therefore, will continue to expect that their phones fit into the contemporary world of modern design. In keeping with this philosophy, the upcoming and future smartphones is going to define the category with an increasing screen-to-body ratio, almost bezel-less design and a fluid, flowing display with a shrinking notch (dot-notch or teardrop). It is further expected that the aesthetic factor will lead to the uptake of the pop-up or punch-hole camera concept to introduce an all-screen design that is currently available only for the privileged.

The next wave of revolution will also upend the current trends in charging and battery capability and, of course, in the camera department. The entry level and the mid-budget segment will see fast charging and quadruple camera set-up to take over the market.

For the category consumers, as smartphone is becoming their “one-device-for-all”, their expectations and timeshare with their smartphone is also increasing. Hence larger batteries that can run their device through the day and fast charging has started becoming a necessity than a desire. To match their fact paced lifestyle, a battery that will ensure their phones are up and running in a matter of minutes will go a long way in swaying their product preference. Naturally, therefore, the leading phone makers will put greater focus on these matters and pave the way for 6000 mAh capacity batteries and fast USB-C charging.

The AI-enabled, large megapixel quad camera with the ability to provide DSLR-like holistic photographic experience will become the defining factor that will make or break brands, going ahead.

Beyond the features, the other aspect that will drive smartphone uptake will be the marketing strategy. While many companies are pushing their products, and even launching them, on the online platforms, it will be the optimal mix of online and offline channels that will determine which smartphone player can reign supreme in the entry level and mid-budget segment. Because, for these categories, the brick and mortar stores will continue to hold relevance in India. As per industry reports, the offline channel will comprise almost 60 percent of the total smartphone market in the country.

Finally, the disruption in the smartphone industry is expected to reach its zenith. And as economy progresses, the people of the ‘New Bharat’ will expect a universe of seamless connectivity in their pockets. This will compel smartphone companies to usher in the latest technological advancements to create customized products that will cater to the Indian sensibilities.

For smartphones, it is the budget and mid-range brands that are refining the flagship features and making them available to the masses. It is safe to say that in 2019, these players drove innovation and the budget segment really embraced the trend by leading the innovation curve and making latest technologies and features more accessible to the masses in India.

In 2020, we can only expect the shift to progress more and grow stronger. From that standpoint, it will hardly then be a surprise if the next unique smartphone feature gets introduced in the affordable and mid-ranged smartphones before they find space in the premium devices.

By Arijeet Talapatra, CEO, Transsion India

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