New Delhi, India A man walks in front of a hoarding of Micromax outside a metro station in New Delhi. India's Micromax sold more smartphones in the December quarter last year than Samsung, taking the top spot in the world's third-largest smartphone market. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Micromax Informatics, as expected, has surpassed Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. as the top smartphone vendor in India, but, Hugh Jackman endorsements notwithstanding, the Indian company will find that the real fight begins now, with a resurgent Motorola Mobility LLC, backed by new parent Lenovo Group Ltd.

Micromax sold 22 percent of the 21.6 million smartphones shipped to India in the December quarter of 2014, ahead of Samsung’s 20 percent, taking the top spot for the first time, Singapore-based research firm Canalys reported on Tuesday. Micromax and Samsung had run an increasingly close contest over the last several quarters in India, the world's third-biggest smartphone market, according to various industry analysts.

“This was an expected change,” Canalys analyst Rushabh Doshi wrote in an email to International Business Times.

In the research firm’s report, Doshi said: “Catering to local market preferences will become increasingly important. Micromax has been quicker than its competitors to improve the appeal of devices, for example, by including a wide variety of local languages on its Unite phones.”

What will now be an even more hotly contested fight is the one between Micromax and Motorola Mobility, which retained its spot among the top five vendors list in India, selling an impressive 1.4 million handsets, well ahead of Chinese upstart Xiaomi’s 800,000 at No. 6, according to Canalys data. Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Technology Market Research had pointed out that Motorola joined the million-smartphone club in the third quarter of 2014 in India.

Micromax’s success is partly due to its “continuing appeal to mobile phone users upgrading to smart phones,” Canalys said in its report. “Its flagship line of products has also very effectively targeted the 9,000 rupee - 12,000 rupee ($150 - $200) segment, with products such as the Canvas Nitro and Canvas Hue.”

The research firm estimates that while 23 percent of shipments were of devices priced under 6,000 rupees, devices in the 6,000 rupees to 12,000 rupees segment accounted for 41 percent of the smartphones sold in India in the three months ended Dec. 31, 2014.

These two segments are also the ones squarely targeted by Motorola’s entry-level Moto E and the mid-level Moto G handsets, which also offer buyers a chance to own what is still widely recognized as a global brand with a heritage of deep research and innovative product development, dating all the way back to the Razr.

As an increasing number of urban youth look to own their second, or third, smartphone, Motorola’s global image is likely to give it an edge. The company is also expected to launch 4G versions of its popular handsets in India this year at competitive prices, The Economic Times reported last month.

Globally, Motorola shipped more than 10 million units, up 118 percent year-over-year, adding $1.9 billion to Lenovo’s mobile business group’s revenues, the Chinese parent, which bought Motorola last year, said Wednesday, reporting its fiscal third-quarter results for the December quarter.

“Soon to re-enter China, Motorola is on track to be profitable within 4-6 quarters of close,” Lenovo said.