91mobiles Great Indian Smartphone Survey 2021: a summary

Here are all the insights from our latest smartphone survey

Just like the way a doctor keeps his finger on the pulse of a patient and asks him about their health, team 91mobiles utilises user surveys to keep track of the state of the Indian smartphone industry, while monitoring it closely. As part of the survey, we ask smartphone users about the devices they use, the ones they would like to buy next, the features they would like to have, and how satisfied they are with various aspects of their handset, among others. Well, the results of our latest Great Indian Smartphone Survey 2021 are in, and responses from over 15,000 participants have been analysed to gain insights into this extremely exciting and dynamic industry. Let’s dive right in. 

The full report is embedded here for your reference. We’ll be providing a gist of the insights gained from the survey data below.

Trends in Smartphone Ownership

  • In terms of the smartphone brands owned by users currently, Samsung is at the top with an ownership share of a little over 21 percent, just as Xiaomi follows close behind with a share of 20 percent. Realme is on the third spot, with a share of 15 percent. The fourth, fifth, and sixth positions are occupied by Vivo, OnePlus, and OPPO, with shares of 8.1, 7.4, and 6.8 percent respectively. iQOO is a new entrant in the list, currently enjoying a share of a little over 1 percent.
  • From a share of 10 percent last year to 15 percent this year, brand Realme has shown massive growth, and while a key reason for that is its portfolio of VFM smartphones, the brand’s aggressiveness in launching new products, entering new categories, and the sheer frequency with which it introduces new devices is quite noteworthy. Realme has been on a launch spree for as long as we can remember, and just this year, it has entered new categories like smart TVs, laptops, and home appliances. In the smartphone segment, which is what our survey pertains to, Realme has consistently been launching compelling devices one after the other. On the flip side, many of its smartphones, especially in the budget and affordable space, come with overlapping specs and are priced close together… though others like the Realme GT, the GT Master Edition etc have distinct identities and have been received well.
  • The other brands that have grown in ownership share include OnePlus and POCO. OnePlus jumped from 5.6 percent to 7.4 percent, and that could be due to its foray into the mid-range segment with smartphones like the Nord CE and the Nord 2. Brand POCO has been doing well too and is emerging from the shadows of its erstwhile parent brand. The POCO X3 Pro is still among the most powerful phones priced south of Rs 20,000, while the brand’s new gaming champ, the F3 GT, seems to have hit the right notes too.
  • Among the brands that have declined in ownership share, Samsung stands out with a significant drop, going from 27 percent in 2020 to 21.3 percent in 2021. The reason for this could be the strong competition in the affordable and mid-range segment, where it now has to contend with not just Xiaomi and Realme, but new entrants like iQOO and OnePlus. Worth mentioning that after staying quiet for a while, iQOO has been making waves in the mid-range with its offerings, while OnePlus is a new entrant in this particular segment, thanks to devices like the Nord CE and Nord 2.
  • The other brands that have shown marginal dips in ownership share include Motorola, Vivo, Xiaomi, ASUS,, and Nokia.

  • Coming to the breakup of smartphone brands users want to buy next, Samsung again tops the charts with a share of almost 18 percent. Next up is OnePlus with 17 percent. Apple, which is an aspirational purchase for many, is seated at the third spot with 14.6 percent. Arch-rivals Realme and Xiaomi are at fourth and fifth positions with shares of 12 and 11 percent respectively. Interestingly, iQOO has made it to this list too, scoring over 3 percent votes. 
  • If users do stick to their declared options when they switch to new smartphones, Apple’s share is likely to increase the most with an 11.4 percent jump. This is massive, though as we mentioned earlier, the numbers here need to be taken with a pinch of salt, since many aspire to buy iPhones, but might eventually end up buying something else instead. Brand OnePlus is also showing a healthy spike, with a potential growth pegged at almost 10 percent, going by survey data. 
  • Among the brands likely to lose the most in terms of ownership share, Xiaomi is showing a drop of 9.4 percent. This could possibly be due to the brand’s value-oriented smartphones feeling the heat from the likes of Realme on the budget side and others like iQOO and OnePlus in the mid-range. 
  • As part of the survey, we also asked users about the features they would like to have in their smartphones, and it turns out the high refresh rate displays are still much in demand. Next up are high-resolution camera sensors, followed by fast charge support, waterproofing, and wireless charging.

User satisfaction

  • It’s crucial for brands to get a sense of how satisfied customers are with their products, and this is especially important in the smartphone industry where the competition is fierce. And very interestingly, iQOO has emerged as a brand that has satisfied a large chunk of its users.

  • For one, iQOO has topped the list in terms of users who are satisfied with their smartphone’s performance. iQOO has garnered 79 percent votes, which could be due to its usage of high-end Snapdragon SoCs in its offerings, which include the likes of the iQOO Z3, the iQOO 7, and the iQOO 7 Legend. By scoring the highest number of votes, iQOO has dislodged OnePlus, which is now on second place with 76.4 percent votes. Apple is on number three with over 68 percent votes, while POCO is at fourth position with 66 percent.

  • POCO tops the charts when it comes to user satisfaction with battery performance, scoring over 68 percent votes. This could potentially be attributed to the fact that most of its popular offerings, like the X3 Pro, the F3 GT, the M3, the M3 Pro etc, all feature battery capacities of 5,000mAh and above. Not just that, the devices have delivered on the promise of long battery life too. POCO is followed by iQOO, which has again put in an impressive performance by getting almost 62 percent votes on battery-related user satisfaction. Next up is Realme with over 59 percent votes, and ASUS is fourth with 58 percent. 

  • Apple has always scored high in terms of the number of users satisfied with their phone cameras, and the Cupertino brand has landed the top seating again this time with almost 70 percent votes. Surprisingly, iQOO has scored high in this segment as well, stealing the second spot with over 67 percent votes. This is corroborated by our reviews, which indicate that iQOO’s offerings, especially the 7 and the 7 Legend, are not just good in terms of delivering smooth performance, but also deliver in the camera department too. OnePlus is third with over 64 percent votes, while Samsung is fourth with 56 percent. 
  • Interestingly, when it comes to the front camera performance, the top four contenders are the same, with Apple collecting 61 percent votes, followed by iQOO with 53 percent, OnePlus with 51 percent, and Samsung with 50 percent votes.

  • Moving on to the number of users satisfied with their phones’ displays, OnePlus is on top with 78 percent votes. Samsung has traditionally been an extremely strong player when it comes to display quality, and its Super AMOLED screens are generally regarded as the best in the business. The Korean brand has landed at second spot with 70 percent votes, and is followed by Apple (66 percent) and iQOO (65 percent).
  • Software is an arena ruled by OnePlus and Apple, and the vote count this time based on number of users satisfied with the software experience on their phones won’t raise any eyebrows again. OnePlus, thanks to its popular OxygenOS, scores top marks with 76 percent votes. Apple’s iOS and the overall software experience offered by iPhones follows close behind by collecting 75 percent votes. iQOO has staged an upset here as well, grabbing third spot with 62 percent votes.

  • Value for money is a vital parameter, and when it comes to user satisfaction based on value, OnePlus has ranked at the top in most of our previous surveys. However, iQOO seems to have staged a major upset, and snatched away the throne from OnePlus by capturing a whopping 87 percent votes. Due credit again to its recent offerings like iQOO 7 and 7 Legend, which come across as sold all-rounders and are priced quite well.  
  • OnePlus trails behind with 70 percent votes, and POCO is a close third with 69 percent. Showing the value doesn’t necessarily mean a low price, brand Apple is fifth with over 63 percent votes. 

  • In terms of overall user satisfaction, iQOO has stolen the show by scoring over 67 percent votes. This bodes well for the up and coming brand, and also sets our expectations high with regards to future offerings. OnePlus is second with 64 percent, and Apple at 63 percent. 

Service quality

  • Let’s address some of the more hygiene aspects of smartphone usage. We asked users if they ever had to take their smartphones in for service, and if yes, how their experience was. It turned out that almost 60 percent respondents took their phones to the service centre, which is a pretty high percentage we think. Thankfully, most of them reported their experience as good (over 17 percent) or very good (over 15 percent), with just 8 percent respondents saying their experience at the service centre left them wanting for more.

  • In terms of users satisfied with the service quality offered by their smartphone brands, Apple ranks at the top with over 53 percent votes. OnePlus and Samsung are at second and third positions respectively with over 36 percent votes each.

Brand loyalty

  • We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Having a loyal set of users is absolutely crucial from a brand’s perspective, since these are returning customers, and usually also spread the good word around. It’s Apple again that has topped the list with respect to having the most loyal users, with 70 percent of its current users saying they’ll buy from the brand again. In comparison, Samsung is a distant second with 44 percent votes, and OnePlus third with 42 percent.
  • Since OnePlus is at the top when it comes to the brand people want to move to whenever they upgrade their smartphones next, it stands to gain the most. 13 percent of current Samsung users, almost 18 percent Xiaomi users, 17 percent Realme users, 21 percent Vivo users, 17 percent OPPO users, and 8 percent Apple users are likely planning to switch over to OnePlus when they switch. On the other hand, almost a quarter of OnePlus users might move to Apple next, as per survey data. 

Smartphone purchase preferences

  • On being asked when they’re planning to buy their next phone, over 35 percent said they’ll make the purchase during festive season sales. This bodes well for e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart, who’re just about wrapping up their big sales of the season now. And the sales numbers being reported do indicate a massive interest in smartphones among online shoppers. 
  • In fact, most people (41 percent) would prefer buying their next smartphone online, provided there’s no difference between online and offline prices. This percentage increases to a whopping 57 percent, if the prices listed online are cheaper, even with a difference of Rs 1,000. 
  • However, indicating that users can be quite price-sensitive, 46 percent respondents said they’d buy their next smartphone from offline stores if the prices are lower as compared to online prices. 

  • When asked about their purchase preference between Amazon and Flipkart, 38.5 percent users voted in favour of Flipkart, while 35 percent said they’d prefer Amazon. 
  • Almost 70 percent users said they would buy electronics if they get good deals during the festive season sales, with almost one in four looking to buy an audio device like earphones or speakers. Over 20 percent are interested in fitness wearables, while 16 percent showed interest in buying laptops.

That wraps up the insights from our Great Indian Smartphone Survey 2021. Watch out for more such insights and industry news as we move into the last quarter of the year and start looking forward to what 2022 holds in store.