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Samsung retains top spot in India's increasingly important smartphone market

The South Korean electronics giant has strengthened its grip on India's smartphone market, keeping its top position in quarter three of 2015

Juan Garzón/CNET

India is becoming an increasingly significant market for smartphone vendors, with many local and Chinese companies hoping to penetrate the emerging market with budget devices. However, despite strong competition, Samsung maintained its position as the industry leader in the country in the third quarter of 2015, according to Counterpoint Research.

Hoping to keep its leading pace in the final quarter of 2015, Samsung on Tuesday announced its new On5 and On7 budget phones, which are being marketed as media-centric devices, coming with data compression technology and a subscription to MixRadio, India's Spotify equivalent.

The South Korean electronics giant scored 23.2 percent of the smartphone market, a small drop from its 24.5 percent share in Q2. Its nearest competitor was local brand Micromax, which chipped off some of Samsung's share as it rose from 16.7 percent to 17.7 percent. On the handset front, which includes both smartphone and feature phone sales, Samsung topped the market with a 19 percent share against Micromax's 13.8 percent.

In the west, the phone, tablet and wearables maker is known for its flagship devices like the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 , but its most popular products in India are the Galaxy J, a budget line which begins at 12,390 rupees ($190, AU$260, £125), and the Galaxy A range, which starts at 31,490 rupees ($480, AU$665, £310) says the research firm.

The Indian market is a key one. Q2 of this year saw a 44 percent year-on-year growth in smartphone sales, according to IDC research, while sales in saturated markets China and the United States remain stagnant. Meanwhile, thanks to customers switching over from feature phones to cheap smartphones in the region, IDC has predicted that India will overtake the USA as the world's second largest smartphone market by 2017.

Apple, Samsung's global competitor, had a marketshare of just 1 percent in India, selling 1.7 million smartphones, Counterpoint Research said. However, the Californian company's revenue share was, as with the rest of the world, disproportionately high, at 9 percent.