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The production line at the Realme factory in Greater Noida, India.

The production line at the Realme factory in Greater Noida, India.

Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

Upstart China Smartphone Maker Cracks Notoriously Tough India

China’s Realme is closing in on leaders Xiaomi and Samsung in world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market

Last year, when a global chip shortage forced many smartphone makers to delay launches, upstart Chinese brand Realme took a gambit in India. With processors from global giants such as Qualcomm Inc. in short supply, Realme decided to buy them from a relatively unknown Shanghai manufacturer to be able to keep churning out new handset models.

The move paid off, boosting the four-year-old newcomer’s sales and helping it reach the No. 3 position in the fast-growing market with about 600 million smartphone users. Only Samsung Electronics Co. and Xiaomi Corp. sold more devices in India in the latest quarter, with Realme closing in.