CMR Study reveals Indian consumers continue to prioritize audio quality while purchasing smartphones


Over the past year, audio has been increasingly integrated into consumer lives. Audio is now central to their lives, enabling shared virtual experiences, whether it be audio or video. As such, quality audio experience is now a ’must-have’ on smartphones.

CyberMedia Research (CMR), India’s trusted technology research and consulting firm, partnered with Dolby, a company with decades of expertise in delivering breakthrough audio and visual experiences to billions of people worldwide, to unveil the second edition of the survey titled ‘What Audio Means for Indian Smartphone users 2021?’ The survey reveals consumer insights on audio for smartphones and consumer preference for object based next generation immersive audio technology like Dolby Atmos.

As per the study findings, audio quality is the top-most driver (69%) influencing consumer smartphone purchases, ahead of battery (65%) and camera (63%). The Digital Natives (in the age group of 18-24 years) are the most active content consumers, spending >20 hours/week online on audio consumption. Amongst digital natives, the survey highlights a remarkable 8% point jump in consumers, over the previous annual study, prioritizing audio as a key smartphone purchase driver in 2021 at 71%. Digital natives are tech-aware, and presumably highly satisfied with the camera and battery innovations brought forth by smartphone OEMs.


Movies (86%), music (82%), user-generated content (68%) are the three most-preferred content forms for consumers on their smartphones. User-generated content, via platforms such as Instagram Reels, has exploded and overtaken episodic content consumption as the third-most preferred content type. Consumers continue to seek more depth and detail, alongwith more immersive and richer audio experiences. Desire for having all three features namely voice & dialogue clarity, depth & details and immersive experience has increased by 68%.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, “After a year and more of social distancing, audio consumption trends have further intensified. The consumer relationship with audio is constantly evolving. Audio is playing a key role in consumer lives across content types – episodic shows, music, movies, live sports, or mobile gaming. For the youth, superior and premium digital audio experiences are now increasingly shaping their daily hygiene, and enhancing their emotional connections with loved ones. As a result, consumers are now demanding refined better audio experiences, made possible by industry-leading innovations, such as Dolby Atmos.”

Here are some of the most interesting study findings:

Premium Smartphone Audio Quality is a must-have feature.

  • Across the board- digital natives (18-24 years), digital dependents (25-30 years), or digital laggards (31-40 years), smartphone audio quality is the top-most purchase driver (69%), ahead of camera and battery.
  • Over the past year, there has been a 5% increase in digital laggards prioritizing smartphone audio quality in their next smartphone purchase.

Distant but together: Quality audio binds consumers.

  • Three in every four smartphone users feel to be more connected to friends / family since the pandemic began.
  • 73% users prefer connecting virtually with their loved ones, including celebrating festivals (52%), bonding with loved ones over video calls (51%), gathering online listening to audio/ music streaming platforms (46%), and watching music bands together online (38%).

Content Consumption, especially long-form, is rising.

  • Beyond movies and music, consumers consume audio across specific use contexts, including Live TV (75%), Gaming (68%), and watching sports (58%) amongst others.
  • Long-form content consumption is on the rise. There has been a 67% increase in consumers watching longer content online (>2 hours) than a year ago. Alongside, there has been a 42% decline in short-form video consumption.
  • In 2021, consumers made a leap from freemium to premium on OTT platforms. There is 9% rise in paid subscription over last year.

Consumers seek immersive and enhanced audio experiences, driven by Dolby Atmos.

  • Satisfaction with the audio quality has increased in 2021 over the previous year, in use cases, such as gaming (11% growth YoY) and video consumption (20% growth YoY).
  • Three in every four smartphone users are aware of Dolby Atmos technology. 90% are willing to recommend Dolby Atmos enabled content or smartphone to their family & friends.
  • Consumers seek Dolby Atmos-enabled audio experiences for their favorite content- movies (88%), music (79%) and mobile gaming (65%). Preference of movies and gaming have increased by 7% and 8% respectivitly from last year.
  • 82% believe that Dolby Atmos would contribute to increased consumption of video or audio, including podcasts and music. 86% indicate that Dolby Atmos would be a key factor in deciding their OTT subscription.

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