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India’s Feature Phone Users Go Digital, Affordable 4G/5G Smartphones Drive Shift, itel Stays Top Choice, Shows New CMR Study

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A new report from CyberMedia Research (CMR), India’s premier technology market research and advisory firm, reveals a dynamic shift in consumer preferences within the country’s mobile phone market. While feature phones remain a lifeline for many, India is experiencing a surge in digital acceleration, driving a renewed interest in affordable 4G smartphones and even 5G offerings within the sub-INR 10,000 segment.

The consumer study by CMR, covering >2,000 mobile phone users across major Indian cities, reveals that feature phone users are increasingly preferring feature phones that provide longer battery life (78%), ease of use (74%), affordability (57%) and offer digital capabilities. Notably, three in four users’ express interest in switching to smartphones, primarily in INR 6,000 to INR 8,000 price range.

Arijeet Talapatra, CEO, Transsion India, said, “itel’s focus on device features & and user-friendly design not only advocates user preference, but also ensures that individuals in deep Bharat stay connected with their loved ones, access important information, and become an important part of India’s socio-economic development. At itel, our unwavering focus on research and development enables us to deliver cutting-edge features tailored to our vibrant, youthful audience in both feature phone and smartphone category. Renowned for our trustworthiness and unbeatable value, we are dedicated to understanding and meeting the evolving needs of Gen Z and New Bharat.”

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Key Study Highlights: 
  • Shifting Needs, Expanding Usage: The study highlights a change in how feature phones are used. Indians spend an average of 3 hours daily on calls (87%), alarms (72%), and texting (62%). Interestingly, one-third utilize apps like weather (47%), news (34%), and social media (24%).
  • Limitations Drive Upgrade Desire: While acknowledging benefits, users cite drawbacks of feature phones like poor camera quality (62%), lack of advanced apps (56%), and limited internet access (53%), fueling the shift to smartphones, including 5G models.
  • itel Captures Feature Phone Loyalty, Ready for Upgrade Wave: Samsung enjoys the highest brand awareness (74%) for feature phones, but itel stands out with the highest conversion rates – 61% from awareness to trial and an impressive 86% from trial to current usage. itel also leads in overall satisfaction (94%), brand loyalty (94%), and advocacy (24% NPS score).

According to Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), “Our research identifies a key trend: consumers are increasingly seeking feature phones with a more premium experience, including features like UPI payments. However, the inherent limitations of these devices are ultimately driving them towards smartphones, particularly affordable 4G and 5G models. Brands like itel, which excel in both budget-friendly smartphones and feature phones, are well- positioned to capitalize on this shift, especially among Gen Z and millennials. itel’s impressive conversion rates and strong brand loyalty are a testament to their understanding of the needs of value-conscious Indian consumers.”

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