When online exclusive brands like Xiaomi forayed to India and grabbed more than their fair share of headlines, based on a promise of utopian world of flagship specs and low-end prices, existing players were bafflingly unperturbed.
This casual indifference didn’t stem from their arrogance, but because the online smartphone market share was way too small to command a strategic overall. That, however, has changed. In 2015 online market reflected a healthy growth (1 in 3 phones is sold offline) and eventually everyone joined the race.
Here we compile a list of most popular phones of 2015. The data comes from our online shopping and comparison portal which gets over 15 million views every month. So this isn’t market data, but largely reflects the sentiments of online consumers in India.
The Lenovo K3 Note
Lenovo K3 Note topped the charts with flying colours. Lenovo sold 1.2 Million K3 Note units last year which makes it their biggest success in India so far. At its launch, the K3 Note listed the best possible specs for its price. Market took some time catching up, and the handset stayed relevant for a longer duration, even during the Diwali festival season.
The handset is currently available for 9,999 INR. Lenovo is also rebranding it as A7000 Turbo for offline markets.
The Samsung Galaxy J7
The Samsung Galaxy J7 was the first affordable smartphone we saw from the South Korean giant’s camp that made for an easy recommendation. The Samsung Galaxy J7 offers a good quality AMOLED display panel, decent camera performance and, importantly, Samsung branding for a very reasonable price.
Since consumers are patently conscious about their smartphone brand, its success wasn’t all that surprising.
The Micromax Yu Yuphoria targeted the ultra-low-end Android space and highlighted the presence of a metallic side rim, which was then unprecedented in this category. In the following months, the handset instigated smartphone manufacturers to focus on design and build, even for budget phones.
Yuphoria featured enticing hardware and was originally introduced for 6,999 INR in India. The current Yuphoria lot has ditched Cyanogen OS for stock Android 4.4 KitKat. The present generation ambitious YU flagship – the Yutopia, follows the same symmetrical design as Yuphoria (but wears a full metal jacket).
Micromax Canvas Spark
Micromax Canvas Spark was the first flash sale entrant from Micromax, and it did manage to grab everyone’s attention, thanks to a lowly price tag of 4,999 INR. However, it failed to impress in person.
The handset was pretty cool on paper, but in practice the experience it delivered was way below par. It did manage to ring cash registers for Micromax though and was later followed by Canvas Spark 2.
Motorola Moto G3
Moto G series has been very successful among Indian youth in urban cities. The Moto G3 is the third iteration, which doesn’t deviate much from its predecessors on paper, but significantly overcomes their shortcomings.
It’s the best looking Moto G till date, though still carved from plastic, and is already receiving Marshmallow update in India. Notable improvements include Camera hardware and IP67 certified water resistance.
Samsung Galaxy J5
The Samsung Galaxy J5 was launched alongside Galaxy J7, as a more affordable option. This one too includes a good quality AMOLED panel, and the same design. Specs and other hardware is one notch below Galaxy J7, but everything adds up fine for a price of 11,766 INR.
Moto G 2nd Gen
Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen was launched last year, but has still managed to reserve a spot in top 10 list. Even one year down the line, consumers are accepting it as a valuable low cost alternative to Moto G3 at 11,999 INR (or lower).
The handset includes a good quality display, frontal speakers, acceptable camera performance, reasonable battery life and will receive Marshmallow update too, but at this stage we recommend Moto G3 as a better buy.
Xiaomi Mi4i was perhaps the only thing that clicked for Xiaomi India in 2015. The handset was tailor made for India and was also plagued with a few issues initially, but with consequent updates, Xiaomi has managed to eliminate all major ones.
The Mi4i includes the best display panel in its class, a decent 13MP camera and a compact design. What’s hard to look past is the limited 16GB storage. Xiaomi did introduce a limited edition 32GB model, but that ran out of stock within weeks.
Lenovo A6000 Plus
The Lenovo A6000 was the start of a very successful online exclusive 4G LTE portfolio in India, and was soon replaced by upgraded A600 Plus. The handset was also later pushed in offline retail chain and thus managed to remain quite popular last year.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G is quite dated in Xiaomi’s lineup, but was among the first few 4G phones in India last year. At the end of the year, Xiaomi also launched an upgraded Prime variant, which was criticized as a mediocre unappealing addition to India portfolio.
The handset still manages to remain popular in both online and offline circles, and scores the 10th spot on the list.
Since smartphone launch cycles are quite short, the phones launched at the start of the year don’t have a necessary advantage. As new products are launched, attention from old ones phases out rather quickly. 2015 was a very influential year, but all that is in the past now. The Indian smartphone industry has enthusiastically stepped in the promise land of 2016.