Despite a China Market Decline, Huawei Reaches 25% Market Share in 2018

Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi –

Jan 28th, 2019

  • Sales volume fell by more than 10% in the fourth quarter and in 2018.
  • Huawei (including Honor) has maintained high-speed growth with a run of hit products.
  • Oppo, vivo and Xiaomi sales fluctuated in 2018, but are still ahead of the overall market.
  • Nokia and China Mobile are the highlights of the second-tier brands.

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Pulse service, China’s overall smartphone sales volume declined 11% YoY in 2018. As the world’s largest smartphone market, it has declined for two consecutive years.

Commenting on the performance of the overall market, James Yan, Research Director said, “The sharp YoY decline in 2018 can be attributed to the generally lengthened upgrade cycle of consumers and increases in ASP. The reason behind this is the weakness of China’s economy, especially private enterprises. The Chinese economy is transitioning from an external, export-led economy to one where internal consumption plays a bigger role. In addition, China faces many uncertainties brought about by the trade war between China and the United States. With a weakened economy, Chinese consumers have become more pragmatic and are less likely to frequently change their smartphones.”

James Yan further added, “In such a downturn in China’s smartphone market as a whole, OEMs tried to compete through innovative technologies such as water drop screens, under-display fingerprint sensors and 3D face recognition technologies. But the result was little overall change in the competitive landscape; the top five OEM rankings in 2018 were the same as in 2017, though consolidation has occurred. The combined market share of the top five OEMs increased from 75% in 2017 to 84% in 2018, with some smaller brands having withdrawn from the market.”

Exhibit 1: China Smartphone Market Share Full Year 2018 and Q4 2018

China Smartphone Market Share Full Year 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse

China Smartphone Market Share Q4 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse

Commenting on the future development trend, Mengmeng Zhang, Research Analyst at Counterpoint, said, “Looking ahead, we expect that tier one brands will consolidate their position further through multi-channel and diversified product strategies, and strive to expand their product lines beyond mobile phones, i.e. smart watches, smart TV and so on. For small brands, it has become more and more difficult to survive. They have to find a more niche market to meet customer preferences, for example gaming phones and luxury mobile phones.”

Flora Tang, Research Analyst at Counterpoint, highlighting the significant growth achieved by Huawei, pointed out, “Huawei’s long-term R&D efforts have paid off successfully in its development and integration of cutting-edge technology products. Huawei and Honor are winning the trust of Chinese consumers based on the fact that its marketing team has shaped Huawei and Honor into technology-rich brands that are deeply embedded in consumers minds”.

Key takeaways for the China market in 4Q18 and 2018:

  • The Market:
    • The China smartphone market declined by 12% YoY in 4Q 2018 and declined by 11% for the full year 2018.
    • We see continued consolidation in the Chinese market, with the top five OEMs accounting for 84 percent of the smartphone market in 2018, compared to 75 percent in the same period last year.
    • Huawei (including Honor) was firmly the market leader in China in 2018, capturing 25% market share. We saw outstanding contributions from the Nova series in 2018.
    • OPPO and vivo’s market share did not change much compared to 2017, but their sales have declined slightly.
    • Apple’s volume dropped 12% YoY due to its high-ticket price and impact from competitors. But it still has the highest sales revenue among all brands.
    • Xiaomi held a 12% market share in 2018, but sales fell 7% YoY.
    • Among many small brands, China Mobile and Nokia brands relied on localized channels to achieve good performance in 2018.
  • The Technologies:
    • New technologies such as bezel-less displays (water-drop or notch screen), AI-powered processors and dual cameras have penetrated into mid to low-end models. The competition in China was increasingly fierce in 2018.
    • Players invested more resources to optimize mobile camera functions, such as night-time shots and wide-angle shots.
    • Voice assistant has been adopted by mainstream players, including Xiaomi’s “Xiao Ai”, Huawei’s “Xiao Yi”, OPPO‘s Breeno and vivo’s “Jovi”.
    • 3D face recognition technologies entered the high-end market at the end of 2018.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q4 2018 Market Pulse is available for subscribing clients. Please feel free to contact us at press(at) for further questions regarding our in-depth, latest research, insights or press enquiries.

The Market Pulse research is based on sell-through estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with supply chain checks and secondary research.

Analyst Contacts:

James Yan闫占

+86 15810182576

Tarun Pathak
+91 9971213665

Mengmeng Zhang

+86 18611804269

Flora Tang

+852 5545 2529

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Q2 2015 : China :: Xiaomi Jumps to Top Spot While Huawei, Apple & Vivo Outgrows Competition

Counterpoint Research team of Analysts have completed preliminary sizing of the China smartphone market as few OEMs have already released their Q2 2015 (Apr-June) performances. Following are our preliminary market share and rankings according to our quarterly Market Monitor service.

  • The overall China smartphone market declined 2% YoY but increased 4% sequentially.
  • The weak growth was a result of muted economic environment, smartphone market saturation and lack of product related catalysts
  • Apart from this the reduction of subsidies by all three operators also led to slow smartphone growth during the quarter. Consumers will tend to withhold purchasing if prices suddenly rise or they expect them to come down in future
  • Xiaomi led the China smartphone market with a 15.8% share in Q2 2015.
  • Xiaomi’s performance in China improved after a two quarter dip as it cleared out some older inventory left in the market and refreshed its portfolio with newer LTE models
  • Redmi 2 and Mi Note were Xiaomi’s best-selling models during the quarter, global rollout and performance in other key markets such as India is helping Xiaomi to build some scale
  • Huawei climbed to second spot with a market share of 15.4% in China smartphone market during Q2 2015 after a strong performance globally.
  • It remained aggressive on pricing and distribution to capture market share in saturating market like China , a notable feat during the quarter.
  • Huawei’s rise was mainly due strong demand for its sub-brand Honor smartphones and models such as latest Ascend Mate and G series.
  • Apple captured third sport during the Quarter with a market share of 12.2%,
  • However, the market share of Apple declined during the quarter but the vendor shipments in China remained strong despite the fact its flagship iPhone 6 series undergoes seasonality factor.
  • China continues to be one of the important market for Apple. China revenues more than doubled (112% YoY) during the quarter
  • China is on track to contribute almost US$60 Billion in revenues to the Apple’s total revenues and almost US$15 Billion in Operating income during CY2015
  • Apple continues to attract and penetrate middle class Chinese consumers apart from the huge base of wealthy urban Chinese consumers
  • Vivo climbed to fourth spot surpassing Samsung to capture 8.1% market share during the quarter for the first time ever.
  • Vivo’s was one of the fastest local brands during the quarter with a YoY growth of close to 250%
  • Vivo continue to pursue aggressive go to market strategy with leaner and competitive product portfolio which not only helped to gain market share in China but also in SEA and India during the same quarter.

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Source : Counterpoint Research China Market Monitor Q2 2015

For additional press comments and enquiries please reach out to analyst (at)

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