The key drivers of mobile usage statistics in India


Sonali Saraswat

UI/UX Designer

If not anything, Covid-19 circumstances in the past few months have vaulted our journeys to a more digitized world. Look at the data: in March 2020 alone, the lockdown nudged Indians to spend 24% more time on their smartphones as compared to the previous year. The spike was part of a global trend, with some countries like Spain and Italy witnessing 34% and 28% increase in smartphone usage, respectively.

To those of us who are in the space of mobile technology development, this trend is a prelude to the times to come. From the launch of the first mobile phone in the country in 1995 by Nokia, the country reportedly had over 502 million smartphone users in 2019. This number is likely to touch a whopping 802 million by 2022.

Let us take a look at some factors that contributed to the burgeoning growth of smartphone usage in the country:

  • Growth of 'Mobile Internet'
    In 2019, over 73% of India's web traffic reportedly came from mobile phones. We already have the second-largest Internet user base in the world. 'Mobile Internet,' referring to wireless Internet access enabled through cellular service providers, significantly drove smartphone usage and Internet penetration in India. 2019 also saw a 195% growth in app downloads from 2016, at 19 billion downloads, compared to the numbers in 2016. In the globe, India is said to be the largest consumer of entertainment apps. Social apps that are hyper-local and apps in the fintech space are also in demand.
  • Revolutionary features of Android and iOS
    Newer capabilities introduced in Android and iOS platforms have made smartphones more versatile, personal and core to our digital spaces. The improved affordability of Android phones has made the smartphone ubiquitous; we use them for entertainment, education, commerce and self-improvement, among others. As of 2019, Android held a market share of 91% in India compared to a 75% share in 2016, as reported by the data platform Statista.
  • Falling mobile data costs
    The cost of broadband data in India is said to be the cheapest in the world. The average tariff in India for 1GB of data was at $0.26 in 2019, compared to a global average of $8.53. While the debate around the sustainability of this price is on, the fact is that this has made mobile data accessible to those in the lower strata of the economy.
  • Widening social media landscape
    The falling costs of data have furthered social media usage in India. Echoing a global trend, smartphone purchases in India have been influenced by the population's inclination for social media content and vice versa. Reports suggest that currently, nearly 50% of the country's population are social media users

Despite the disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, smartphone prices in India have become more affordable, in some instances. Recently, several popular brands like Samsung, OnePlus, Galaxy and Oppo reduced prices for some smartphone models.

Meanwhile, the Indian government's 'Digital India' initiative and push for indigenous app development for government services may contribute to the smartphone ecosystem in India.

We believe that the mobile usage statistics are bound to be dynamic in the coming years and multiple factors and developments will influence the numbers. For all the exciting updates, keep visiting this space.

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