With HONOR Back, China Smartphone Market to See Another Shakeup

Beijing, Boston, Toronto, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul – August 6, 2021

HONOR, after separating from Huawei, has gradually reclaimed its market share in China. OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi, which are locked in a fierce battle to fill the void left by Huawei, will see HONOR also entering the field and trying to expand its position in the premium market segment. The RMB 2,000-RMB 4,000 (or $300-$600) and above segments are expected to see a reshuffle in H2 2021 amid stronger competition.


HONOR Monthly Sales in China vs Market Shares

HONOR’s China market share stood at 8.4% in June after reaching the bottom of 5.1% in January, according to Counterpoint’s monthly Market Pulse data. It is yet to recover its sales peak of 4.55 million units which was achieved in August 2020. The June 2021 sales were only a bit more than half of this peak number. But the current growth momentum appears quite strong as the company’s sales were up 39% MoM in May and 27% MoM in June. From both market share and absolute sales perspectives, it can be concluded that HONOR’s sales have bottomed out. Preliminary data show that HONOR has maintained the growth in market share coming into July, indicating movement towards a full recovery.

Brand and R&D Capabilities

HONOR’s current performance can be attributed to its brand and R&D capabilities. The HONOR brand is still appreciated by Chinese customers. HONOR claims to have absorbed over 4,000 R&D professionals when became an independent company. HONOR CEO Zhao Ming even stated publicly that the company’s R&D capabilities were its “most valuable” assets. Such statements have helped HONOR to strengthen its image of possessing cutting-edge technologies. It is this brand image that attracted Huawei’s loyal users who had not switched to other brands in the past six months, even as OEMs spared no effort to fill the void in the premium market segment.

Supplier and Distributor Channels

Another key factor is the network of suppliers and distributors. The ability to secure the supply chain is also vital to HONOR’s rebound amid the general tight supply of components. HONOR 50 is the first smartphone featuring the Snapdragon 778G, proving HONOR has made substantial progress in addressing the supply issue.

HONOR also has an advantage — its shareholders, which include the country’s major electronic gadget distributors. This guarantees that its new products are available in offline channels and reach the biggest market segment in China. Other OEMs are all eyeing more offline presence even as some of them have spent years investing in online channels. This illustrates the importance of offline channels in China.


The HONOR 50 series’ performance helped the OEM to further recover its market share in China. It also reconfirmed the market’s recognition of HONOR’s brand and its R&D capabilities. The company says it recorded RMB 500-million sales at online platforms for HONOR 50 in the first minute after its launch on June 25. In the two weeks from June 21 to July 4, HONOR’s sales jumped 36% from the two weeks before, according to Counterpoint’s smartphone tracker. Its weekly market share also stabilized at around 12% in the following days.

Counterpoint Research HONOR Growth Rate
Source: Counterpoint Market Pulse

The HONOR 50 series, with prices ranging from RMB 2,000 to RMB 4,000, covers both mass-market and middle-to-high segments of China’s smartphone market, a clear declaration of the company’s intention to recover its past status and try to expand its position in the global smartphone market. The HONOR 50 model has a 6.57-inch curved screen with OLED technology and a punch hole solution. At the rear, the HONOR 50 sports a quad-camera module.


HONOR 50 Specs

Counterpoint Research HONOR 50 Specs

Premium Market Battle

Thanks to the low shipments of Huawei’s P and Mate series, opportunities in the premium segment are still out there for OEMs including OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi and HONOR. The first three have tried hard to expand their market shares. Yet, there has been no widely acknowledged heir to Huawei.

With its brand image, R&D capabilities and distribution network, HONOR is expected to change the competitive landscape in China’s premium market after the release of its new Magic 3 in August.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Archie Zhang

Mengmeng Zhang

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