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Fast growing smartphone brand Realme has partnered with contract manufacturer Khy Electronics to assemble Realme smart watches, making it the first Chinese company to make wearables in India, people familiar with the matter said.

It has also expanded the smartphone manufacturing footprint in India beyond its sister brand Oppo's Greater Noida facility for the first time. Realme's partners Wingtech Mobiles and DBG technology have started assembling the smartphones in their Andhra Pradesh and Haryana factories, respectively.

Analysts suggest the brand is developing long-term partnerships to eventually start exports from India as it gains strongholds in European markets by leveraging the support of incentives offered by the Indian government.

“The government’s focus on Make in India is gaining momentum by gradually establishing the manufacturing ecosystem,” said Navkender Singh, research director at IDC, India. “Realme might be engaging with multiple OEMs to make India its manufacturing hub and start exports because the Oppo factory, which generates 50 million units per year, is currently sufficient to meet the local demand.”

He added that since outsourcing manufacturing operations are cheaper than in-house expansion, the BBK group (which owns Oppo, Vivo, Realme and OnePlus) might be aiming to save cost in that direction. 

Realme did not respond to ET’s detailed query till press time.

The youngest China-based smartphone brand, which originated in India, sold close to 19.2 million smartphones in 2020, which are majority produced in Oppo’s Greater Noida factory along with OnePlus. It ranks number fourth among smartphone brands with a market share of 13%.

India is the third largest hearbles and wearables market and the segment has registered triple-digit growth of 144.3% in 2020 with 36.4 million shipments due to price corrections and greater acceptability of these lifestyle devices, research firm IDC, India had said in its report. 

Realme, which forayed in the smart wearables segment in the first half of 2020, has acquired the number 2 spot in the wristband category with 12.3% market share and in the watch category with 15.7% market share in the year 2020, the brand said quoting IDC data. It is also ranked second in hearables category with 13.5% market share.

Overall, the October-December period was the first quarter when shipments of watches crossed the one-million mark as vendors shipped 1.3 million units during the quarter, IDC said.