4G Feature Phones Set To Dominate India's Mobile Landscape

by Moumita Deb Choudhury    Mar 24, 2017


India has witnessed a supernova of smartphones in the last few years, while at the same time, feature phones fizzled out in its race being considered redundant in this modern tech era. The takers of feature phones became limited to a section of the aged population and rural gentry. However, 4G is setting yet another revolution in the feature phone space after making smartphones smarter and creating waves in the telecom industry with its speed and efficiency. Now, the integration of 4G in feature phones by some vendors is giving a 360 degree surge in demand of feature phones.

More than 200 million 4G feature phones is expected to be sold in India in the next five years, while the smartphone market growth is likely to slow down, states a Counterpoint research.

“We estimate close to 60 million units of 4G-capable feature phones could ship this year globally from almost a million units last year, with India potentially contributing to almost half of that this year,” said the analysts from market research firm Counterpoint Research, which added that this rise of demand in smartphones will instead result in a slump of the smartphone market.

“In the process, we expect the smartphone market growth to slow down as the laggard feature phone users who eventually would have purchased a smartphone will instead move to a 4G feature phone,” highlights the report. “More than 400 million feature phones were sold globally in 2016 and we saw smartphone market growth slow down to 3 per cent (year-on-year), portraying that the easy days of smartphone growth are over.”

The report states that in India, telecom service providers such as Reliance Jio are attracting many rural 2G users to switch to its 4G network by offering free unlimited VoLTE calls.

“This is making a case for the rise of 4G capable feature phones with the core value proposition being VoLTE calls and move the users to the cost-efficient 4G networks. We estimate more than half a billion 4G capable feature phones will be sold over the next five years, a ‘big short-term opportunity’ for players in the mobile industry,” the report noted.

Micromax, itel, Lava, Jio, Nokia and so forth will be the key players to watch out for in this segment.

Recently Nokia launched a feature phone variant made for Nokia lovers and will be offered at a price of Euros 49. This is the company’s revamped version on an old classic.

Micromax Informatics will soon launch low-priced 4G VoLTE enabled features phones. This is an attempt to gain back the lost grounds it once treaded in the Indian smartphone market when it enjoyed the second position until it was pushed away by its Chinese rivals. 

Chipset brands including Qualcomm with its new Qualcomm 205 platform specially designed for 4G LTE feature phones is well positioned to drive growth starting end Q2 2017, the report added.

Clearly, the way is paved once again for feature phones as integration of 4G in it has breathed new life into feature phones.