India’s smartphone market, bucking the global trend, continued to expand rapidly, growing 23 per cent in Q1, after growth weakened in Q4, according to figures from Counterpoint Research.

The country’s smartphone shipments expanded 23 per cent last year to more than 100 million units, but growth slowed to 15 per cent in Q4.

The rapid Q1 growth contrasts with China, where smartphone shipments continued their downward trend in the period, falling 5 per cent from a year ago to 104.9 million units. Without China helping to drive growth, the global smartphone market decreased 3 per cent in Q1 to 335 million units, according to Strategy Analytics.

Demand for LTE models in India remained strong, accounting for two out of three smartphones shipped, and more than 60 per cent of shipments were phablets, Counterpoint said.

Samsung maintained its top spot in the country’s smartphone market with a 28.8 per cent market share, despite stiff competition from local and Chinese players. Its J series, with new entry-level and mid-range models, helped smartphone shipments grow 27 per cent.

Micromax saw smartphone shipments grow 33 per cent and held on to second place with a 16.6 per cent share. It was followed by Intex, which increased shipments 24 per cent and had a 10 per cent share.

Lenovo boosted shipments 344 per cent to stay in fourth in the smartphone segment, and Reliance Jio’s smartphone brand Lyf, in its first quarter of operations, took a 7 per cent share to capture fifth place. It also became the second largest LTE smartphone supplier, moving ahead of both Micromax and Lenovo.

Although not in the top five, fast-rising Vivo expanded shipments more than 700 per cent during the quarter and Apple posted 62 per cent growth.

Highlighting India’s role in global smartphone growth, Peter Richardson, research director at Counterpoint, said there is a massive opportunity for every player in the mobile value chain when the second largest market by volume is still underpenetrated and growing, while the rest of the world’s smartphone demand has waned.

The research firm estimates that more than a billion smartphones will be sold in India over the next five years but, with a replacement cycle of as little as 18 months, smartphone penetration will just be about 55 per cent.