China’s Smartphone Market in 2020 Logs Sharpest Decline in 3 Years

China’s Smartphone Market in 2020 Logs Sharpest Decline in 3 Years

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China’s overall smartphone sales declined 17% on a yearly basis in 2020, the sharpest decline in the last three years, according to Counterpoint Research. China’s 5G smartphone sales accounted for more than 60% of total smartphone sales in 4Q20.

“Though China recovered quickly from COVID-19, the overall demand for smartphones in the market remained weak and below the pre-pandemic levels. A weakened economy and longer smartphone replacement cycles all contributed to the lackluster demand. However, China’s 5G smartphone sales surged with Chinese OEMs aggressively rolling out more value-for-money offerings. 5G penetration rate became even more pronounced in Q4 with the launch of iPhone 12. 5G smartphones accounted for more than 60% of smartphones sold in China, up from just 5% in 4Q19,” said Mengmeng Zhang  research analyst  at Counterpoint Research.

Huawei and HONOR combined were still the market leader in China’s market, capturing 41% share in 2020. However, following component shortages after the US trade sanctions effective September 15, sales of Huawei and HONOR dropped a staggering 26% in 4Q20. Their combined market share also slipped to 32% in the same quarter.

Among major OEMs, Apple was the only one to enjoy a positive growth in 2020. Apple’s strong growth was due to the debut of iPhone 12 series, which comes with 5G connectivity and models across a wider price range. In addition, thanks to heavy price cuts and promotions, the iPhone 11 series continued to do well even after the launch of iPhone 12s. The iPhone 11 was the best-selling model on JD.com during the e-commerce festival sales. The impressive growth of both iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 series helped push Apple’s market share in China to 16% in 4Q20.

Xiaomi registered a double-digit decline of 14% in 2020, but still outperformed the market. Their sales rebounded strongly starting in second half of 2020. OPPO and vivo sales declined in 2020 following the overall market trend. Nonetheless, OPPO had its strongest quarter in Q4, increasing 9% compared to Q3.

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