Global LTE Smartphone Shipments Crossed One Billion units in CY 2016

New Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Buenos Aires – Feb 1st, 2017

  • Apple registered a record Q4 2016 surpassing Samsung in Global Smartphone volumes but Samsung led the market for the full year 2016.
  • Overall Smartphone shipments reached an all-time high crossing 1.5 billion units in CY 2016.
  • Huawei, Oppo and Vivo crossed 300 million units shipments combined in CY 2016.
  • China smartphone shipments reached an all-time high of 465 million units in 2016, contributing to almost a third of the global smartphone shipments.


According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, global smartphone shipments grew 3% annually in CY 2016. However, in Q4 2016 smartphone shipments reached the record 440 Million units with a YoY growth of 9% as a result of strong holiday sales thereby lifting up the full year shipment growth.

Commenting on the findings, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research said, “2016 was the inflection point for LTE as a technology as it scaled down to lower price points (sub – USD 75). LTE adoption was much faster compared to any other previous cellular technologies as the total LTE smartphone demand crossed a billion units in 2016. China is leading in terms of LTE subscriptions share globally by contributing to almost half of the total worldwide LTE subscriptions. Going forward we estimate LTE to be a dominant technology for mass market adoption with Gigabit LTE to start providing the foundation next year for premium high speed mobile broadband before the 5G rollout takes over by 2022.”

Commenting on vendor performance during the year Research Analyst, Shobhit Srivastava, noted, “The global smartphone market grew by a modest 3% YoY in CY 2016 with major brands such as Apple and Samsung seeing an annual decline in growth. However, the bulk of the growth was driven by three major Chinese brands -Huawei, Oppo and vivo which combined grew a healthy 57% YoY shipping more than 300 million units globally. Furthermore, Chinese brands continued to expand into newer geographies beyond China. As a result, most of the leading Chinese brands registered a healthy growth in 2016.”

Market Summary

  • Smartphone shipments reached 1512 million units in CY 2016 with 4 out 5 smartphones shipped was LTE enabled. In Q4 2016 alone, 440 million units of smartphones were shipped.
  • Almost 80% of the mobile phones shipped are now smartphones.
  • Top 10 brands contribute to almost 75% of the smartphone volumes in CY 2016.
  • Top 10 countries contribute to more than two-thirds of the total smartphone shipments in CY 2016 with USA, China and India alone contributed to almost 50% of the total smartphone shipments.
  • Chinese brands had a record 2016 as China smartphone shipments reached an all-time high in 2016. Moreover, most of these brands have been successful in expanding overseas in 2016.
  • Oppo, Huawei, vivo, Meizu and Gionee drove the majority of the volume, capturing a combined 58% of the total Chinese smartphone market in 2016
  • The other key brands which drove growth during the year were Tecno & iTel in Africa,QMobile in Pakistan, Symphony in Bangladesh, Wiko in Europe, Innjoo in Middle East and so forth.

OEM Performance Insights

  • Samsung led the smartphone market by volume with a market share of 21% in CY 2016. Its smartphone shipments declined 4% YoY registering 310 million units during the year.
  • Apple had a record quarter shipping 78.3 million iPhones in all important holiday season, surpassing Samsung in overall smartphone market share.
  • Apple iPhone ASP hit an all-time high of $695, driven mostly by strong sales of iPhone 7 Plus.
  • Huawei shipments reached record 139 million units with 28% YoY growth in CY2016. However,in past couple of quarters it is being challenged by Oppo and vivo in China. Demand for Huawei smartphones remain healthy in China and Europe but needs to expand in other growing Asian markets and important North American region.
  • Huawei’s smartphone market share surpassed 10% in Q4 2016 for the first time ever.
  • Huawei has gained a foothold in the premium market with the successful release of P9 and Mate 8 and will continue to put more emphasis in the premium market going forward challenging Apple.
  • Oppo and vivo grew 112% and 78% YoY reaching 93 and 72 million units in CY 2016.
  • Oppo & vivo were the fastest growing brands and in second half of 2016 we have seen phenomenal growth for both the brands owing to strong omnipresent distribution channels from tier-1 to tier-4 cities across China.
  • As both the brands continue to expand internationally a target of 100 million units looks very realistic in CY 2017.
  • Xiaomi, the most talked about vendor last year, slipped to seventh spot globally during the year as the demand for its smartphones declined 16% annually. The key reason for this decline was its rivals racing ahead with key features, innovation, bigger marketing budgets and wider online and offline distribution channel during the year and inability to ramp up international presence other than India where it is performing well.
  • LG, Alcatel and Lenovo declined YoY but still remains among top 10 smartphone brands globally as gap between other brands outside top 10 is still significant.
  • ZTE grew 5% YoY reaching 62 million shipments in CY 2016 as it expands in European and other emerging markets.

Exhibit 1: Global Smartphone Shipments Volume Share (%)


Source: Counterpoint Research: Quarterly Market Monitor Q4 2016

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Tarun is a Research Director with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based out of Gurgaon (near New Delhi). Tarun has 10 years of work experience with a key focus on the evolving mobile device ecosystem with specialties in Emerging Markets. He understands specific mobile industry nuances, helping clients to navigate through the rapidly changing technological trends. As a Telecom Analyst he has been quoted extensively by the leading media platforms. Tarun holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, specializing in International Business from the Amity International Business School and is a graduate in Physical Sciences from Jammu University, Jammu in the northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.

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