Birender Singh

Birender Singh

• Music consumption increases on both feature phones and smartphones as India emerges from the lockdown.
• Mobile audio quality emerges as #1 prerequisite for consumers seeking new feature phones.
• SEC A and B are open to buying a feature phone as a companion device for uninterrupted free music and calls.

12th June 2020 | NEW DELHI. 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 behaviors amongst Indians. As per the study findings, 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. 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,” said Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR.

The prolonged lockdown 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. 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,” Prabhu added.

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.

“Amongst consumer cohorts, 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,” added Satya Mohanty, Head-Industry Consulting Group, CMR.

Here are the few excerpts and the key findings of the study:

• COVID-19 drives increased music consumption. Three in every four respondents listen to music, at least once in a day. Beyond music, smartphone consumers also tune to podcasts, while 81% feature phone cohorts prefer FM and MP3.

% of Consumers listening to Music (By Age Group):

 18-25: 82%
 26-32: 85%
 33-40: 71%
 41-50: 68%

• Freemium audio content rules. One in every three users prefer freemium audio content. Average time spent on listening to music and other content is around 7 hours in a week.

Time Spent by Consumers (By Age Group):

  • 18-25: 8 hours
  • 26-32: 8 hours
  • 33-40: 6 hours
  • 41-50: 6 hours

Consumers seek digital detox. 76% of the consumers indicate the need for digital detoxing.

Three in every four users feel the need to have an additional feature phone for listening to audio content and communication. This trend is more pronounced amongst higher SECs (SEC A-84% and SEC B-78%).

Three in every five users are likely to use feature phone over smartphone for effortless music listening and remove digital fatigue. Acceptance is higher among lower SECs (SEC C-68% and SEC D – 65%).

Effortless music and strong battery life key. As per smartphone users the additional device should have long battery life (86%), high quality music (84%) and powerful speaker (70%).

% of Consumers looking for high quality music (By Age Group):

  • 18-25: 86%
  • 26-32: 88%
  • 33-40: 82%
  • 41-50: 78%

• Brand trust and reliability are paramount. Trust (84%) and reliability (78%) are what users look for in a feature phone brand.

% of Consumers emphasising on Brand Trust (By Age Group):

  • 18-25: 78%
  • 26-32: 84%
  • 33-40: 82%
  • 41-50: 90%


Note for Editors:

CMR conducted an Insights on the Go digital survey covering 800 respondents, across top four cities of India, namely New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, covering the age groups of 18 to 50, and socio-economic levels of SEC A, B, C, D.

For results based on a randomly chosen sample of this size, there is 95% confidence that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3.5% of what they would be if the entire population had been surveyed.

To know more, and download the report, visit

About CMR

CMR offers industry intelligence, consulting and marketing services, including but not limited to market tracking, market sizing, stakeholder satisfaction, analytics and opportunity assessment studies.

Its bouquet of consulting services includes incubation advisory, go-to-market services, market mapping and scenario assessment services. CMR is servicing domestic as well as international clientele in India and few global destinations. The clientele serviced represents SMBs, Large Enterprises, Associations and Government. CMR’s core value proposition encompasses a rich portfolio of syndicated reports and custom research capabilities across multiple industries, markets and geographies.

A part of CyberMedia, South Asia’s largest specialty media and media services group, CyberMedia Research (CMR) has been a front-runner in market research, consulting and advisory services since 1986. CMR is an institutional member of Market Research Society of India (MRSI).

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About HMD Global

Headquartered in Espoo, Finland, HMD Global Oy is the home of Nokia phones. HMD designs and markets a range of smartphones and feature phones targeted at a range of consumers and price points. With a commitment to innovation and quality, HMD is the proud exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand for phones and tablets. For further information, see

Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation. All product names, tradenames and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.