At the beginning of every year, we put together a list of the brands we think will make a big impact on India’s smartphone industry. And while we don’t like to brag, our predictions so far have been spot on, for the most part at least. Now that we’re freshly into 2016, it’s time for another round of predictions. As expected, a majority of our selections this year are Chinese brands, but there are a few surprises in the list. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the top five smartphone brands to look out for in 2016.
Chinese brand LeTV isn’t a newbie just in India, but in the smartphone industry as well. The brand is a big name in the online video business in China, and forayed into smartphones only in April last year. Interestingly, the three devices which it introduced – the Le 1, Le 1 Pro and Le Max– were also the world’s first to be equipped with USB Type-C ports. But what’s more interesting is that Letv managed to outsell both Apple and Samsung in online sales in August last year, and amassed sizeable figures of one million devices in China within three months of launch. The brand has now set its sights on India, and plans to launch its devices in the country in mid-January. Given its VFM devices and success in China, we’re expecting quite a bit from Letv in India this year.
Coolpad has a huge presence in its home market of China, where it’s one of the country’s top smartphone brands. No surprise then that it followed in Xiaomi’s footsteps and made its Indian debut last year. The brand started out with the entry-level Dazen 1 and affordable flagship Dazen X7, and followed suit a few months later with the very popular Note 3 budget phablet, which was the first in its price range to pack in 3GB of RAM and a fingerprint sensor. The company plans to release more competitively priced devices in India in the coming year, and given that it’s already cemented its place in the smartphone market here, we think you should keep an eye out for this one.
US-based smartphone company InFocus might not be at the tip of your tongue, but it has been quietly churning out a range of competitively-priced smartphones since it entered India early last year. From the entry-level M2 to the affordable M680 to the flagship M812, the brand has covered all its bases. It even launched an Android tablet, and in a surprise move, announced early Android Marshmallow updates for a couple of its devices. So, while InFocus might not be creating the same hype as its Chinese counterparts, its slow but sensible approach to the Indian smartphone market might just make it 2016’s dark horse.
Indian smartphone brand Intex has been around for ages now, so why is it on our list? It might surprise you that last year, Intex followed closely on Micromax’s heels to become the number three smartphone manufacturer in India. The company has been churning out a high volume of new smartphones in the entry-level and affordable segments, but has also been experimenting with new avenues. At MWC Shanghai this year, the company showcased the Sailfish 2.0-powered Fish smartphone, created in partnership with Finnish brand Jolla. The brand also announced its first smartwatch, the iRist, that’s powered by Android. It’s clear that Intex is looking to take a step beyond other Indian brands, and is one to watch out for this year.
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has come a long way in the space of a year. Starting out with the incredibly VFM flagship, Honor 6, the brand followed with other notable smartphones like the Honor 4x and Honor 7, along with the Honor Band Z1 fitness tracker. The brand, which was online-only, has recently started selling its devices in offline stores, which we expect will have a big impact on its sales. Honor has also been fairly consisted with Android updates for its devices, and with the backing of a strong Indian presence plus Huawei’s established R&D facility in Bangalore, we expect big things from Honor in the coming year.