China's Smartphone Market Fell 13.2 Percent to a Decade Low in 2022
During 2022, 285.8 million smartphones were shipped in China, down 13.2% year-on-year (YoY) to below the 300 million mark for the first time in ten years, according to IDC. In 4Q22, the market declined 12.6% YoY to 72.9 million units.
Both full-year 2022 and 4Q22 shipments were near their decade-ago levels as the strict COVID policy and the economic slowdown discouraged demand. Even though smartphones are nearly ubiquitous in China today, the full-year market size neared the level ten years ago when two out of five mobile phone shipments were still feature phones.
Honor was the only Top 5 player that achieved growth in 2022 due to a low comparison base year and its aggressive product portfolio development. In 4Q22, Apple’s iPhone assembly facility in Zhengzhou managed to return to its normal pace in December despite the COVID-induced disruptions in the prior month. The production recovery, along with the Singles’ Day online shopping festival, allowed Apple to maintain a seasonal quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth.
“The historically low shipments raise an alarm bell for smartphone vendors to rethink how to build a more sustainable business model and a more targeted marketing strategy,” said Will Wong, Senior Research Manager for Client Devices at IDC Asia/Pacific. Wong adds, “On the positive side, the end of the zero-COVID policy provides a tailwind to the market, though a quick rebound is unlikely as consumers spend on areas like leisure and services instead.”