Western smartphone makers, like Apple and Google, are increasingly looking east for growth, giving countries like India significant influence over the sorts of features they build into their phones.
"Normally what happens in emerging markets is they leapfrog others in terms of forging ahead," said Satish Meena, forecast analyst at Forrester. "India has the advantage of volume — they have sufficient volume so they can tell smartphone makers to build certain features."
"The smartphone makers can then try and use them in the African market, and the Middle East market, for example. The African market has similar problems in terms of purchasing power and penetration of smartphones," said Meena.
India has the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, accounting for 27.5 million devices sold in the second quarter of 2016, up 17 percent from the previous quarter, according to IDC. Mobile subscriptions are expected to hit 1.4 billion by 2021, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, released in June.
"Everybody is looking at India as a huge landing ground for their innovation and also as a next big step in that part of the world," said Sanjeet Pandit, Qualcomm senior director for business development and sales for Asia-Pacific and India. Qualcomm's chips are used in about 30 percent of smartphones in India.