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Insights - What Indian consumers seek from their phones in a post-Covid world

A new study by CyberMedia Research (CMR), in partnership with HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, takes stock of the COVID-19 impact on changing mobile usage habits and behaviours among Indians.

Insights - What Indian consumers seek from their phones in a post-Covid world

dipankar paul dipankar paul
Staff member  /  edited June 15

A new study by CyberMedia Research (CMR), in partnership with HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, takes stock of the COVID-19 impact on changing mobile usage habits and behaviours among Indians.

The study found consumers are now giving more preference to audio over the digital screen. They are, for instance, spending increased time on listening to high quality music.

“There is a clear undeniable shift in the way we operate, with Covid-19 hastening the speed of change," said Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR. "There is a lot written about increase in digital and screens; we wanted see what else is happening in the world of a consumer in India and found that audio is ruling, for music consumption and beyond.”

The prolonged lockdown in India and the move to work-from-home has led to both smartphone and feature phone users highlighting high quality music and audio capabilities as the most important feature in their phones.

“As we move from a homebound economy to a ‘neo normal’, mobile audio will remain key for consumers – think, communication, music and content consumption or team collaboration," Prabhu added. "For instance, in situations involving low bandwidth, the importance of audio becomes even more critical. All said, music is what drives our lives, and a good quality experience is what consumers hold dear.” 

For smartphone users, audio quality now ranks higher than their smartphone’s camera, battery life or even overall phone reliability. On the other hand, battery drainage and internet consumption are two important factors that impede high music consumption on smartphones. These are two key factors that makes them open to buying a feature phone as a companion device that can be used primarily for music and calls.

“Among consumer cohorts," added Satya Mohanty, Head-Industry Consulting Group, CMR, "feature phone users are now seeking to upgrade to better quality feature phones that promise long battery life and music storage. This is driven by the need for a potentially elevated consumer experience when it comes to listening to music on FM and MP3. On the other side, the significant digital overload with blurring work-life boundaries are pushing smartphone users to seek ‘digital detox’. As such, they are now open to a reliable companion phone."

Here are some more findings from the survey:

What do you think of this survey, Fans? Tell us in the comments below.


  • praveenp praveenp
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    I am on a digital detox since 1st March... Rarely did I used a smartphone till 1st May, and since then, I am using my old Nokia 206 as my primary phone. No smartphone usage in last 1.5 month.

    I feel, feature phones are extremely useful is current lifestyle where we are glued to big smartphone screens, swiping and scrolling through music on apps like Saavn, Spotify, etc, where we regularly scroll through the songs, hurting our eyes too (pushing buttons is a far better deal). I am among those people who opine to use a feature phone rather than a smartphone for listening to music and songs.

    Being a person who studied for board exams in late 2000s, music and FM have always been an important part of late-night breaks (initially it was through a cheap mp3-FM player, then through a feature phone that I got in 2009). And till now, I prefer FM over any other medium of listening music. I have always used a secondary feature phone since 2010 when I got my first smartphone, Nokia 5235, to listen to music. I always carry a feature phone while travelling, just to listen to music, even if I don't put a sim card in it.

    I am among those 86% people in age group 26-32 who would definitely look for a better battery life that offers longer hours of audio playback, and a good headphone jack output for a feature phone. Even though we are in a digital world where everything is now online, I still prefer storing music on micro-sd cards (even on smartphones) because streaming music is dependent on network connection, and a single disruption in signal can destroy the whole mood of listening to favorite tracks. So, a good expandable storage capacity is also a thing that I would look for in a feature phone.

    Since I regularly go on a digital detox in every few months, I would also prefer a phone that is at least capable for handling current network scenarios (with 2G being obsolete and 3G being shut down, a 4G calling compatible feature phone, not like Jio Phone which again has support for Youtube, Whatsapp, etc). A phone which uses a 4G network for calling (at least in one of the SIMs) would be a great deal in present times because of the it becoming a new normal. 2G compatible devices are of no use now because who knows, in a couple of years from now, telecom operators shut down 2G & 3G services completely, which will leave these feature phones merely a showpiece.

    And yes, I am waiting for Nokia 5310 (2020) to be launched at a highly competitive price (so that I can replace it with my Nokia 206 as it is not having a micro-USB port to transfer music directly, and I am still using that old patli-pin-wala charger) 😅😉

    (though I am very disappointed that Nokia 5310 is still launched with 2G capabilities, that too in 2020😑)

  • amaljoe amaljoe
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    what if we had stripped down versions of music apps like Spotify exclusively for feature phones? just basic functionalities like play, pause, skip etc? we can create playlists from a smartphone or PC and can be downloaded and played through the feature phone. Since Music is an important aspect, such a feature would be appreciated by most users.

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