NEW DELHI: The Indian smartphone market is rapidly transitioning to 4G handsets even though it may be some time before the relevant network technology is available across the country.

New figures from tech research firm CyberMedia Research indicate that some two-thirds of smartphones shipped in India during the first quarter of this year were enabled with 4G technology.

That compares with a figure of just 10% in the same period of 2015, the Business Standard reported.

More than 100m 4G handsets are expected to be sold in 2016, as new players enter the market and offer increasingly affordable products.

"LYF devices have played a big role in creating a buzz in the market," noted Krishna Mukherjee, telecom analyst with CyberMedia Research.

The Reliance Retail-owned handset manufacturer has captured a 13% share of the 4G market in just two quarters with its VoLTE (voice over LTE) phones and Mukherjee anticipated this trend towards 4G VoLTE would continue to grow.

"The shift from 3G to 4G has been much faster than the move from 2G to 3G," said Shubhajit Sen, chief marketing officer, Micromax Informatics.

He added that while 3G users would continue to form an important consumer base, "there will be users who will skip 3G altogether and move to 4G network".

Sen expected that 75% of Micromax phones would be LTE-enabled by the end of 2016-17, more than double the current figure of 35%.

With all the top ten handset brands in India now selling 4G devices – only three were doing so six months ago – major telecom service providers are preparing to invest heavily in their roll-out of 4G services.

The upcoming spectrum sale is expected to pull in upwards of $10bn for the government, with Vodafone and Idea Cellular contributing almost half of that as they look to catch up with market leader Bharti Airtel.

Data sourced from Business Standard, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff