Apple surpassed Vivo in October 2021 to become the largest smartphone OEM in China for the first time since December 2015, according to Counterpoint Research.
Driven by the iPhone 13 series, Apple’s sales grew 46% MoM, the highest among all major OEMs in the country. In comparison, China’s smartphone market grew only 2% MoM in October.
Since Huawei’s decline, China’s top position has shifted several times. OPPO rose to the top in January 2021, while vivo rose to the top in March 2021.
In October, the market dynamics shifted once more, with Apple becoming the new number one OEM for the first time since December 2015. This was fueled by the popularity of the iPhone 13 series, which debuted in China at a lower price than the iPhone 12 series.
In China, Huawei has remained robust in the premium sector, but that appears to be changing suddenly. Apple, with its great brand reputation, is benefiting the most from the premium gap left by Huawei.
If not for the shortages, especially for the Pro models, Apple may have earned much more. Apple, on the other hand, manages its supply chain better than other OEMs.
China’s smartphone sales down 9% in Q3 2021
China’s smartphone sales fell 9% year-on-year to 76.5 million in Q3 2021 according to Counterpoint. Vivo led the market in the third quarter of 2021 with a market share of 23%, followed by Oppo (20%) and Honor (15%).
Honor was the fastest-growing OEM (96% QoQ) in China. Xiaomi and Apple rank 4th and 5th with a market share of 14% and 13% respectively. Huawei ranked sixth with a market share of 8% and Realme ranked seventh with a market share of 4%.
China’s 5G smartphone sales accounted for 79% of total smartphone sales in Q3 2021.
Smartphone Shipment in Q3 2021
Smartphone shipments fell 5% year on year in Mainland China in Q3 2021 according to Canalys, reaching 78.8 million units. Market leader Vivo solidified its position, shipping 18.3 million units for a 23% share.
OPPO, which has now merged with OnePlus, stayed in second place with 16.5 million shipments. Honor made it to the top three for the first time, with its market share soaring from 9% in Q2 to 18% in Q3.
Xiaomi ranked fourth with 10.9 million units shipped amid supply constraints while Apple ranks fifth, shipping 8.3 million units.
China’s smartphone shipments decreased to 78 million units in Q2 2021
In the second quarter of 2021, China’s smartphone shipments reached about 78.1 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 11.0%. In the first half of 2021, the overall domestic market shipped 164 million units, with a year-on-year increase of 6.5%.
Vivo has the largest market share of 23.8% in Q2, followed by Oppo (21.1%), Xiaomi (17.2%), and Apple (10.9%).
China Smartphone Market Forecast
Among the Chinese buyers who plan to buy new mobile phones in the next six months, 70% are willing to buy new smartphone brands with good reviews and appropriate price, according to a survey by Strategy Analytics released in June 2021.
The survey’s key findings include:
- 35% of high-end smartphone users will change their phones in the next six months.
- 5G is a must, and 90% of users want their next smartphone to be 5G.
- Only half of the Chinese smartphone users agree that their current smartphones can meet almost all their needs. Apple is clearly the leader in this area.
- The repeat purchase intention of Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi in China is 17-21 percentage points lower than that of Apple.
In a series of consumer electronic products and services, Chinese consumers have the lowest loyalty to brands, and smartphones are no exception, according to Strategy Analytics.
70% of the respondents who plan to buy high-end equipment in the next six months will consider trying a new brand. It’s hard to win customers for the first time, but it’s more challenging to retain them.
China is one of the largest and most unstable smartphone markets in the world. China’s smartphone replacement cycle is still one of the shortest in the world, and 40% of people bought a brand new smartphone less than nine months ago.
China smartphone shipment in 2020
In 2020, Huawei has the largest market share of 38.3% by total smartphone shipments. Apple’s market share increased to 11.1% from 8.9% in 2019. Check out global smartphone shipment in 2020 here.
Xiaomi’s 2020 performance was mainly supported by its well-positioned product lineups and its offline penetration in the lower-tier cities, which resulted in more than 29% YoY growth in the second half of the year.
In the fourth quarter, the domestic 5G mobile phone shipments were about 60 million units, and the cumulative shipments for the whole year of 2020 were about 167 million units, accounting for more than 50%, according to data from IDC.
MediaTek was the largest 5G processor supplier in Q4 2020, with its products covering the mainstream and mid-range price bands, meeting the demand in the <US$300 5G segment.
Apple’s 5G processor ranked second with the support of the iPhone 12 series, followed by Qualcomm, Huawei Hisilicon, and Samsung, while Unisoc also gained a higher share, according to IDC.
Get an overview of China’s mobile apps market here.