Why Chinese smartphone brand Honor isn't exactly abandoning India

Chinese phonemakers and Indian customers need each other.
Chinese phonemakers and Indian customers need each other.
Photo: Eduardo Munoz (Reuters)
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Amid a crackdown on Chinese smartphone manufacturers by India, Honor has chosen to exit the country for “obvious reasons.” However, the Shenzhen-based firm’s Indian business will continue, managed by local partners.

Honor, which started off as a Huawei sub-brand, isn’t the only Chinese smartphone maker under scrutiny. BKK-owned Vivo’s offices were raided and its bank accounts frozen as part of a probe by India’s anti-money laundering agency. The income-tax department has also been looking into Huawei and Xiaomi’s books.

The Chinese companies, however, remain steadfast about the India. After all, they wouldn’t want to miss out on the world’s second-largest smartphone market which, in 2021, generated record revenues of more than $38 billion. South Korea’s Samsung aside, the top five smartphone brands sold here are Chinese.

India’s price-conscious buyers, on the other hand, have few alternatives. American players like Apple are making a pure premium play while domestic brands are few and far between.

Besides, probes like the one on Honor would hardly matter to Indian consumers, Kiranjeet Kaur, an associate research director at International Data Corporation (IDC), told CNN. Calls to boycott Chinese products following a border clash in 2020 had little impact on smartphone sales.