Samsung and Xiaomi, meanwhile, make nearly all their Indian smartphones locally, and have doubled and tripled respectively their manufacturing capacity in the country in recent months. They have carved out a dominant position in the market.

Apple is also losing out among wealthier Indians, its prime target market. China's OnePlus is the leader in high-end smartphones.

"Apple needs to grow as fast as [that] segment," said Tarun Pathak, an analyst at Counterpoint Research. The top end of India's market is growing by 20% a year, Pathak added, compared to 13% globally.

"India is a very critical market," he said.

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