NEW DELHI: More than 70m mobile phones were shipped in India during the third quarter, with smartphones continuing to gain ground on feature phones, new data has revealed.

According to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, total phone shipments reached 72.3m units, with smartphones accounting for 32.3m of these – the first time more than 30m have been shipped in a quarter – and feature phones the remaining 39.9m.

"This seasonal spike in third quarter of the year can be attributed to the channel preparation for the festive season, mega online sales and early import of smartphones owing to Chinese holidays in October" said Karthik J, senior market analyst, Client Devices, IDC India.

The sales season in India kicked off in early October when Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi reported selling more than half a million smartphones in 72 hours in the various sales being run by leading e-commerce firms.

The phone market has crashed to earth in the past week, however, following the decision of the government to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes, according to the Business Standard.

It reported that retailers were seeing sales of top-end brands, such as the Apple iPhone, down by 90%, while market traders said sales of even low-end handsets had halved.

IDC figures showed that 4G smartphone shipments grew almost 25% quarter on quarter, as faster connectivity becomes widespread: seven out of ten smartphones shipped were 4G enabled, as were nine out of ten sold by e-tailers.

"[The] mobile vendor ecosystem is going through a multi-dimensional transition," said Jaipal Singh , market analyst, Client Devices, IDC India, noting how Chinese brands such as Xiaomi and Lenovo are investing heavily in retail expansion and "high-decibel marketing".

Consequently, local vendors are rethinking their strategy and are getting lower tier distributors on-board, positioning more staff at storefronts and adopting a better mix of products in online and offline channels.

Data sourced from IDC, Mint, Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff