Smartphone shipments in India expanded 44 per cent to 26.5 million units in Q2, with almost half of the devices shipped priced below $100, according to IDC.

India is the third largest smartphone market after China and the US and is forecast to surpass the US in 2017.

India’s smartphone market has picked up momentum as prices have fallen sharply, with the segment now dominated by low-end models. In China, just 20 per cent of smartphones sold were priced below $100.

While smartphones have attracted most of the attention, the overall Indian mobile phone market declined 6 per cent year-on-year during the quarter to 59.4 million units.

Counterpoint Research, which reported its India handset numbers two weeks ago, had smartphone shipments increasing 34 per cent year-on-year to 25 million units and overall handset shipments falling just 2 per cent to 57 million units.

Samsung held on to the top smartphone position in Q2, with a 23 per cent market share, followed by India’s Micromax (17 per cent), Intex (11 per cent) and Lava (7 per cent), according to IDC. Lenovo was fifth with a 6 per cent share.

Online retailers have opened additional avenues for growth for many handset makers in India, which would have otherwise struggled to get a hold in the country’s complex distribution network, said Kiran Kumar, research manager at IDC India.

Chinese vendors tripled their shipments year-on-year in India, with Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei and Gionee doubling their smartphone market share to 12 per cent from a year ago, IDC said. It noted that a key to their success has been flash sales through online platforms as well as a focus on offering 4G phones at the $100-150 price point, which had not been widely addressed by Indian and global vendors.

IDC expects India to maintain a double-digit growth rate in the smartphone market over the next few years as consumers switch to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G smartphones.