India is one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, with more than 50 crore Indians owning a smartphone – even your local vegetable vendor can catch up with his favorite shows thanks to the country’s cheap wifi plans to accompany his pocket friendly smartphone! With the smartphone market number expected to double over the next few years, Indian mobile companies are poised to lead from the front despite numerous international players locked in intense competition for market dominance.
These days proud netizens are also emphasizing buying smartphones that are made in India, or made by Indian brands due to a rise in sentiments to Ban Chinese Products in lieu of the pandemic and Indo-China border tensions. And why shouldn’t they buy Indian-made products only? Indian mobile companies have come out with phones that are feature-rich and pocket-friendly at the same time! These ‘Made in India’ smartphones are spread across all Indian industries and are expected to give a boost to domestic smartphone manufacturers. With consumers now opting to purchase domestic products over those manufactured outside the country, Indian smartphone brands such as Micromax, Lava, Intex, etc are quickly becoming the most reliable smartphone brands in India.
Intex was founded in 1996 by Narendra Bansal and is the second-largest mobile company. The company is headquartered in New Delhi and like its competitor, Micromax offers a plethora of products such as – LED TVs, Speakers, Tablets, Smartphones, ACs, UPS, Feature Phones, Coolers, etc. Intex Technologies has a revenue of Rs. 6200 Crores and has 10,000+ employees.
Micromax Informatics, commonly referred to as just Micromax is the largest Indian mobile manufacturer. Micromax Informatics has a manufacturing plant in Uttarakhand, which receives a revenue of 2368 Crore, and employs 20,000 people. The company is headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana and was founded by Rahul Sharma in 2000. The company manufactures mobiles, AC, LED TVs, Laptops, power banks, and Tablets.
This mobile company was also started by Rahul Sharma of Micromax in the year 2014 as a joint venture with Cyanogen Os. YU TELEVENTURES released phones under the Yu brand name but failed to impress buyers due to poor quality and after-sales service. The mobile company has also marketed several products under its name like a health band, mini-Ecg device, power banks, etc.
Lava International commonly referred to as just Lava is the third-largest Indian mobile company and is headquartered in Noida, Uttarpradesh. The mobile manufacturer was started by Hari Om Rai and others in 2009. The company makes feature phones, smartphones, tablets, and laptops inside their manufacturing plant in Uttar Pradesh and has 10,000+ employees and made 542 Crore in revenue.
Xolo is a mobile brand of Lava International and premiered in 2012. The Xolo brand manufactures laptops, Smartphones, and Tablets and also created a Hive UI for Xolo smartphones. So, these are some of the top Indian phone brands that are offering phones made in India – even if the design or the manufacturing process doesn’t happen within India. Just the assembly and branding is enough to call an Indian mobile phone an Indian product ( we explain this better in our FAQs section).
Spice Mobiles is a part of Spice Digital Ltd which was founded by Mr. Bhupendra Kumar Modi in the year 2000. The company has many businesses including – Spice Telecom, Value Added Services, and Spice Mobiles. The Indian mobile company launched several phones under Spice Stellar brand name. Spice Mobiles company is headquartered in Noida and has 500+ employees.
The company was founded by Sudhir Hasija & Pardeep Jain in 2009 and is headquartered in New Delhi. The indian mobile company makes mobiles, tablets, feature phones, and Tablets. Karbonn Mobile has a revenue of Rs. 650 Crores and employs 10000+ persons.
This Indian mobile company was created in 2001 by Anil Parasrampuria and is headquartered in India’s financial hub Mumbai, Maharashtra. Iball mobiles imports computer accessories, smartphones, tablets, routers, and speakers. The company employs more than 2000 people and has a turnover of Rs. 2000 crores.
Reliance Jio LyF Mobiles
Reliance LyF Mobiles is a subsidiary of the largest Indian Telecom company JIO. This mobile company makes 4G Volte Smartphones (Jio Phone) and also other Android mobiles, WIFI dongles. The company was started by Mr. Mukesh Ambani, in the year 2015 and is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
iKall boasts of being an Indian company and on its official website says that the company was started back in 1949 and that the company was founded in India. That being said, IKalll doesn’t reveal who the founder is. The company says they have 2000+ distributors and also sell mobiles, tablets, and gadgets online on Amazon and other e-commerce websites but it is hard to tell if the phones are simply being imported from China after final assembly or Assembled in India.
Celkon is an Indian mobile company that premiered its first tablet in 2012.
Founded by Mr. Shripal Gandhi, this Indian mobile company has base operations in India but is headquartered in Singapore and has 500 employees.
Initially, it was a mobile company headed by Y Guru and was based out of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Celkon used to sell mobiles, PC and tablets whose parts were assembled in Medchal Hyderabad. The company had a revenue of Rs. 925 crore but now the website of the Celkon brand no longer exists and they don’t sell products online.
Smartron is an Indian mobile company that was launched in 2017 by Mr. Mahesh Lingareddy along with India’s beloved cricketer Mr. Sachin Tendulkar. The company manufactures several products – smartphones, bikes, tablets, and laptops.
FAQs about Indian Mobile Companies
Are Phones Like Micromax Really Made In India?
Let’s take a look at how Indian brands were manufacturing their phones before Oneplus, Oppo, Xiaomi, and other Chinese brands came to the Indian market. A couple of years back, Micromax launched a smartphone called Micromax Dual 5 in India which happened to be a copy of Qiku 360 Q5, a Chinese phone. Another instance was the launch of a phone called Yu Yureka, which was an imitation of Wiko U Feel Prime (another Chinese mobile).
Why Do Indian Brands Only Assemble Indian Mobile Phones In India?
- Currently, we can’t make a Qualcomm or MediaTek processor in India as the investment required for such a plant is enormous (we’re talking billions of Dollars).
- Technological know-how is absent unless the United States begins some form of knowledge transfer and starts investing in India.
- In the future, we may be able to do everything within the country but currently, this is not the case. Furthermore, to manufacture motherboard parts, there is also a requirement for mineral elements that may not be present in India in abundant quantities.
- There are massive semiconductor manufacturing units in China and Taiwan with cutting-edge research and development that is difficult to replicate in a short period, but it is not impossible.
- Several parts, such as the display panels, camera modules, and motherboards, are made in different countries and imported anyway.
As you can see in order to question if we can make a 100% made in India smartphone, then we need to get our facts right. However, there are plenty of assembled in India phones available. For example, it is worth noting that iPhone and Samsung phones are not always entirely made in India. The iPhone-SE 2020 is assembled in Bangalore in a plant set-up by Foxconn. However, there are many parts or components imported from China and other countries.
These days, Chinese phone manufacturers are selling the same phones directly to Indian buyers at cheaper rates. It is more like cutting the middleman. Indian brands assemble phones in India. Notably, they don’t manufacture them. It is mostly an assembly of imported parts (PCB, Screen, body, etc.) from China and other countries like Taiwan. In addition to this, you need to pay an import duty of 20% when you import a fully assembled phone from China.
On the other hand, if you set up an assembly plant in an SEZ (Special economic zone), you get tax soaps from the Indian government and pay only 1% tax. (The Government has increased customs duty on PCBs from 10% to 20% and chargers from 15% to 20% in March 2020.) Assembling locally within India is considered as part of the Make in India campaign. So, most Indian and Chinese brands have set up assembly units in India, for mobiles including Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo.
Vivo has a vast facility in Greater Noida to Assemble (Make) smartphones.
Samsung too has a massive facility in Noida where they can even make PCBs and other essential components. Samsung recently (June 2020) said they would set-up a plant in Uttar Pradesh with an investment of 5000 crores to manufacture display panels in India.
Were Phones Like Micromax, Lava, Intex, Or Karbonn Ever Manufactured In India?
No, the design is Chinese, the manufacturing and material are Chinese and only the brand is Indian. Yes, it’s true that such Indian smartphone companies either assemble phones in India by importing most parts, or they directly buy phones in bulk from China, rebrand them with their logo, and price the phones in India at a higher rate.
Yes, a couple of years back, the business plan for Micromax and other Indian brands, was to buy Chinese phones in bulk for almost nothing, sell the phones in India and pocket the profit. Further, there are lots of ODM companies in China (Original designer and Manufacturing companies). These companies make smartphones at their factories and give them to brands to relabel and sell. Previously, Chinese ODM that used to make phones for Micromax in the past launched its brand in India. The brand is called Topwise, and they had a sub-brand Comio in India to sell phones. A couple of years back, for Micromax and other Indian brands, the business strategy was simple. Buy Chinese phones in bulk at a low price, sell them in India, and keep the margin. Consequently, whether Indian companies import complete handsets or parts, China gets the monetary benefit. Micromax and other Indian companies never invested much in software development or providing higher quality products with adequate after-sales service making the consumer experience a horrible experience. When the Chinese companies entered the market with affordable prices and better products, everyone jumped ship. Unexpectedly, after 2013 many new Chinese brands came to India and Micromax, and other Indian brands began to lose the market share. Due to the hyper-competition in the Indian market from 2017 to 2019, even several Chinese manufacturers like LeeCo, Gionee, Meizu, to name a few, closed their companies.
Will There Be Any Changes For Indian Mobile Companies in 2021?
Micromax Founder Mr. Rahul Sharma announced that they are launching new made in India mobiles. The Indian mobile company has launched 2 new mobiles (In Note 1 And In 1B) in India. Indian mobile company Lava has also launched new mobiles that are made in India, and the company is making a comeback. Now the companies are investing to make phones in India and launched the Lava Z Series mobiles. Notably, the companies are avoiding parts made in China but have to import some of the parts that are either made in Taiwan and other countries. The phones utilize MediaTek processors that are manufactured by Taiwan based Mediatek group.
What Is The Make In India Government Initiative?
The government realized that they should incentivize the making of mobiles in India and increased the import duty on fully-assembled phones. Notably, the government’s push for the “Make in India” initiative has paid some dividends in recent years. As reported by Hindustan Times, there is a 373% increase in the value of smartphones made in India, from just Rs. 19,000 crores in 2014-15 to Rs. 90,000 crore in 2016-17. Tremendous growth and Flextronics ( the Company that makes phones for Huawei, Lenovo, Motorola) at Chennai based plant can produce 10 million smartphones a month at their 100 Acre campus. According to another report by Business Standard published in May 2017, only 2% of the value addition is done in India in mobile manufacturing. Also, under the Phased Manufacturing Program by the Ministry of Electronics, the plan is to increase this value addition to 10% in the next few years. As of 2020, things have changed a lot. However, there is still lots to be done to realize the dream of “Make in India”.
Is It Wrong To Assemble Smartphones In India?
Chinese companies are dominating the TV market, Toys, Earphones/Headphones, Smartwatches, Fitness bands, and other tech products. Xiaomi claims they employ 90% women workforce at their manufacturing facility. A social initiative or a cost-cutting measure, you are a better judge. Realme recently said they would hire up to 10,000 Indian workers at their Indian manufacturing plant and will have 50% of the components from India by the end of 2020. Realme CEO, to curb the anti-China sentiment, recently (June 2020) claimed in a Video that they are an Indian start-up. Lastly, Oppo has a plant in Noida that also makes Realme mobiles.
All in all, assembling smartphones in India is good for the economy because employment generation comes into play and it helps to create ancillary industries. Also, the local assembly attracts foreign investments. But the bottom line is still the same for many Chinese and Indian brands that import most of the parts from China.
China has manufacturing hubs for essential components such as motherboards, processors, ram, display panels, camera modules, and other components. The profits still go to China and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) from the Chinese mobile companies (corporate taxes), making them financially stronger. When you are buying a Samsung or other non-Chinese phone made in India, it helps China probably a little less.
Any progress for Indian mobile companies to go local?
India, following in the steps of China, has also started R&D and Design labs for creating the blueprints for new mobiles. Hopefully all it takes is a couple of decades to see the fruits of our labour if we can step up in manufacturing.
In his address to the nation on 12th May 2020, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, emphasized boosting local manufacturing and “being vocal about local”.
The PM has decidedly asked Indian citizens to support Indian companies, start-ups, and local production. But more than the support we need large Indian conglomerates to start mobile units to match the Chinese companies. We also need support in terms of investment from large tech companies that manufacture displays, processors, and other essential components to give a strong push to local manufacturing. .
In one good turn of events, Apple has recently announced that it will shift 20% of the iPhone production from China to India. These are positive steps for India, and the growing concern for China ( especially in light of the pandemic) will lead to more companies shifting base in the future.
With more confidence in the Indian companies, they can rival global companies not only from China but from other nations as well.
The Make in India initiative has helped India grow but we’re still in the nascent stages. In this country, we can’t expect 100% in-house manufacturing of a technology-driven industry to happen overnight.
But the good news is that from directly importing the smartphones from China, we have atleast moved to import parts and assemble them in India. The government of India has also recently raised the import duty on electronic devices which will strengthen the made in India initiative for more jobs and help the economy. Signs lead to progress as mobile manufacturing will help to bring in more industries since India is one of the largest mobile markets in the world.