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NEW DELHI: HMD Global, the maker of Nokia-branded mobile phones, is in talks with more home-grown contract manufacturers to grow the local ecosystem for its feature phone and smartphones, having inked deals with Dixon and Lava International recently. It is also looking to launch mass-market 5G smartphones later this year.

We want to expand this with multiple EMS (electronics manufacturing services) partners, mainly Indian companies. We are evaluating exports from India,” HMD Global vice president Sanmeet Kochhar told ET. “India is an important market both in terms of local demand and sourcing capabilities.”

Kochhar said that HMD Global is closely working with its existing partners to build a local component ecosystem in the country. 

"It is a collaborative effort between us and EMS partners both globally and India. They have networks for sourcing but we ourselves have a network and we keep evaluating partners in terms of quality of components required for the local needs,” he added.

The handset maker has aggressive plans to grow its feature phone and smartphone business in India. Kocchar said that it is aiming to drive feature phone to smartphone migration this year but will continue to focus on its feature phone business as well, which grew in 2020. 

"We had a sustainable and profitable year in India in 2020. We will launch smartphones in the mid-segment for smartphones and will bring 5G phones," he said.

The company last year recently raised $250 million from investors like Nokia Technologies, Google, and Qualcomm. The funding will be used for bringing 5G to masses. “This is what we intend to do in 2021,” Kochhar said.

India’s 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 38 million units in 2021 or 21% of the overall smartphone market, as per Counterpoint Research. The market tracker said that 5G smartphones will penetrate sub-Rs 15,000 ($200) price bands in 2021.

“The market in India is price-sensitive and OEMs (original equipment makers) aggressively try to undercut the competition. It is a matter of time before this intense competition pushes the cost of an entry-level 5G phone below the Rs 20,000 mark. We estimate these devices to hit the Rs 15,000 mark by the third quarter of 2021,” Counterpoint Research said.