Feature phones remain a lifeline for many, but India is experiencing a surge in digital acceleration, driving a renewed interest in affordable 4G smartphones and even 5G offerings within the sub-₹10,000 segment, said a report on Friday.

A study by CyberMedia Research (CMR), revealed that feature phone users are increasingly preferring feature phones that provide longer battery life (78 per cent), ease of use (74 per cent), affordability (57 per cent) and offer digital capabilities.

However, while acknowledging benefits, users also cited drawbacks of feature phones like poor camera quality (62 per cent), lack of advanced apps (56 per cent), and limited Internet access (53 per cent), fuelling the shift to smartphones, including 5G models, the report said.

It highlighted a change in how feature phones are used. Indians spend an average of three hours daily on calls (87 per cent), alarms (72 per cent), and texting (62 per cent). Interestingly, one-third utilise apps like weather (47 per cent), news (34 per cent), and social media (24 per cent).

Notably, three in four users expressed interest in switching to smartphones, primarily in ₹6,000-8,000 price range, said the report. The study covered around 2,000 mobile phone users across major Indian cities.

“Our research identifies a key trend: consumers are increasingly seeking feature phones with a more premium experience, including features like UPI payments. However, the inherent limitations of these devices are ultimately driving them towards smartphones, particularly affordable 4G and 5G models,” Prabhu Ram, Head - Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, said.

Brands like Itel, which is strong in both budget-friendly smartphones and feature phones, are well positioned to capitalise on this shift, especially among Gen Z and millennials, he said.

Apart from Itel, there are other smartphones makers like Motorola and Lava International that provide 4G smartphones with an effective price range of ₹7,000-10,000.

The CMR study covered consumers in the age group of 18 to 50 years across Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Coimbatore, New Delhi, Kochi, Nasik, Patna and Varanasi.