BUYING a new smartphone was a bit of a mission for Deepa Aswani, who works in marketing in Mumbai.
“I am very particular about what phone I buy. I did not want to invest too much,” she says.
After two months of deliberation, she chose the OnePlus 10R, which in a sale cost her $400 (£329), a reasonable price for a smartphone, but still a significant sum in any country, and particularly in a developing one like India.
“The idea was to buy a phone which did not make a hole in my pocket and had good features. I am happy with the phone I have purchased,” she says.
Like most phones sold in India, the OnePlus is made in China. According to a report by CRISIL Research, in 2022 60% of phones sold in India were made in China.
But that figure has been coming down – in 2021 it stood at 64% – as Indian firms have begun win market share.
Micromax Informatics is one of those challengers. It entered the mobile handset business in 2008. In just two years it grew to become one of India’s biggest makers of cheaper phones, known as feature phones.
Despite that growth, Micromax co-founder Rajesh Agarwal, says it is hard to compete with Chinese smartphone makers.
When his firm launches a new phone, he can hope to sell about a million units in India. But a Chinese phone maker can sell 10 million phones, or more, which gives them a big cost advantage.
“They have huge strength in terms of production,” he says.
On top of that, Chinese firms can source almost all of their components locally.
India does make some parts, including chargers, cables and batteries, but the more sophisticated parts, like screens and computer chips are almost always made abroad.