China eclipsed the US as the largest smartphone market on Earth years ago, but now Americans can't even claim second place. Counterpoint Research estimates that India overtook the US to become the second-largest market, with 158 million phones shipping to the country in 2019. That's largely due to the surge of Chinese manufacturers offering aggressively-priced devices, analysts said. A whopping 72 percent of phones shipped to India came from brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme and Oppo.
This isn't to say non-Chinese brands fared poorly, but the results were mixed. Apple grew quickly at the end of 2019 thanks to iPhone XR price cuts and the debut of the iPhone 11. Samsung, however, saw flat results at the same period and ultimately declined five percent in 2019.
It's not shocking that India would overtake the US given its population and an emerging market where more people can afford smartphones in the first place. However, this could still have a significant impact on how phone makers sell devices beyond what you've seen so far. They may be more likely to design phones with India in mind, for instance. Don't be surprised if your favorite brand shifts its focus, whether or not there are benefits in other corners of the world.