Rs 1 lakh bill doesn't worry Indians when buying premium phones

Kolkata: Demand for smartphones priced above ₹1 lakh has surged up to 100% in a year, with Apple and Samsung dominating the market, prompting Chinese rivals Oppo, OnePlus and Tecno to launch flagship ultra-premium handsets.

Scores of consumers – not just the well-off – are opting for devices with new form factors such as flip or fold, as well as top-notch specifications in camera, processors and memory, brands and retailers said. Wider penetration of EMI schemes in even small towns also boosts the trend, they said. Demand for the new iPhone 15 Pro series – which is sold out in India – has doubled, third-party retailers said.

Retailers said they are unable to service this high demand, with even several of the initial pre-bookings yet to be fulfilled.

Samsung, too, has grown sales of its new Flip, Fold and Ultra smartphones by over 50%, compared to their previous models last year, an industry executive said.

A leading retail chain, requesting anonymity due to Apple’s strict media policy, said it has a few hundred pre-bookings of iPhone 15 Pro series yet to be delivered. But cancellations due to non-delivery are minimal, it said.

Waiting period for the Pro series is three to four weeks in the company-owned webstore.The contribution of the Pro series to Apple’s total sales of the new iPhone 15 series so far is a record 30% compared to 15% of iPhone 14 series last year, an industry executive said.Samsung’s new Flip 5 and Fold 5 – whose price goes up to Rs 1,84,999 – had pre-bookings of 150,000 units as compared to 100,000 units for their previous generation smartphones last year, another executive said. These devices went on sale mid-August.

Emails sent to Apple and Samsung remained unanswered till press time on Tuesday.


Ultra-premium Growth
“Consumers today are spoilt for choice in ultra-premium smartphones, with not just Apple and Samsung, but even brands like Oppo and Tecno entering into it,” said Chandu Reddy, director at Sangeetha Mobiles, a leading cellphone retail chain in the South, with 800 stores.

“This will grow the market for such handsets with real innovation,” he said. “Not just the rich, but consumers across income levels are buying such handsets, thanks to easy availability of consumer finance.”

On Tuesday, OnePlus founder Pete Lau in a note said the brand will soon launch its first foldable phone. Social media buzz has it that it will be priced way over a lakh.

Damyant Singh Khanoria, chief marketing officer of Oppo India, said the company is expecting 2x more sales of its upcoming foldable model, Find N3 Flip, compared to the earlier flagship.

Counterpoint Technology Market Research director Tarun Pathak said the share of ultra-premium handsets will go up to record highs, as it’s growing 1.4 times faster than last year. “These handsets are further driving the premiumisation trend,” he said. “It will push up the average selling price of smartphones in India to around Rs 22,000 from Rs 20,000 last year.”

Samsung India president and chief executive JB Park recently said the success of Galaxy Z Flip5 and Galaxy Z Fold5 shows that Indian consumers are extremely sensitive to new innovations.

According to the latest Counterpoint report, premium smartphones (priced Rs 30,000-plus) grew by 112% in April-June, while the overall market declined by 3% year-on-year. Premium smartphone contribution has gone up to 17%.


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