China’s Q4 2021 Smartphone Shipments Fall 11% YoY; HONOR #2 for First Time as Momentum Builds

  • HONOR reached the second position for the first time after becoming an independent company. It also showed strong momentum at the beginning of 2022 with a record high weekly sales share of 17%.
  • Apple enjoyed a strong quarter in Q4 2021 with more than one-fifth of all smartphones shipped being iPhones.
  •  Major OEMs continued a strong focus on the premium segment and we could see Android regain share over the next few quarters.

Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Taipei, Seoul – February 16, 2022

China’s smartphone shipments dropped 11% YoY in Q4 2021, according to Counterpoint Research’s Q4 2021 Market Monitor. There was intense competition, with Apple ending on top and reaching its highest market share ever.

HONOR increased its market share by more than two times from a year ago to become China’s second-biggest OEM for the first time after becoming an independent company.

Both Apple and HONOR delivered surprises to the upside and continued the trend of a constantly changing competitive landscape.

Source: Counterpoint Market Monitor Note: OPPO included OnePlus in Q3 2021 and Q4 2021. vivo includes iQOO. Xiaomi includes Redmi.

Apple’s iPhone 13 dominated the premium segment thanks to its comparatively lower launch price.

HONOR’s mid-to-high-end products helped drive the brand’s sales with the HONOR 50 retaining the top spot in the $200-$599 price band for five months after its launch.

vivo’s shipments dropped 13.8% YoY in Q4 2021 with its market share at 16.5%. Xiaomi fell to the fifth position, sustaining its downward trend. OPPO rose to third as it included its sub-brand OnePlus.

Source: Counterpoint Market Monitor Note: OPPO included OnePlus in Q3 2021 and Q4 2021. vivo includes iQOO. Xiaomi includes Redmi.

Coming into 2022, we expect HONOR to maintain its growth momentum with the help of the newly launched products like the HONOR 60 and Magic V. Our weekly China sales data shows the vendor enjoying strong momentum, with its sales in the last two weeks of January increasing 32% over the first two weeks. The market share reached a record high of 17% in the week ended January 30.

Source: Counterpoint Smartphone Tracker
Note: Counterpoint’s China weekly smartphone data tracked sales numbers.

Premium battle intensifies

Even though the shipments were down in 2021, major OEMs kept expanding their premium product portfolios. Such devices include vivo’s X70 Pro, Xiaomi’s Mix 4 and HONOR’s Magic3 and Magic V.

Among Android devices, HONOR’s Magic3 led the segment. The series comes with an iconic exterior design and Snapdragon 888-led flagship-level specifications. Software and hardware integrations enhance the user experience.

Foldables is another hot option for OEMs to target the premium segment by providing differentiated products. Also, Apple is yet to enter this segment, which means an opportunity for other OEMs to get a head start.

HONOR has launched its first foldable – Magic V, which is claimed to be the thinnest. Its cover screen is a 6.45-inches OLED, convenient for daily use. On the other hand, the OPPO Find N’s cover screen is only 5.49 inches but a thumb can reach all corners. Huawei has launched a clamshell 4G foldable phone – Huawei P50 Pocket, which targets female and fashion-conscious customers.

Coming into 2022, OEMs including HONOR, vivo and OPPO will keep trying to expand in the premium segment. In addition to foldable products, Android brands will introduce more premium smartphones this year to reclaim some of the market share gained by Apple in 2021.

The premium battle will not be limited to China’s market. OEMs including HONOR, OPPO, Xiaomi and vivo will bring their premium offerings to the global arena. Western Europe will be the prime choice since the region has a relatively large premium smartphone user base and also helps OEMs boost their brand image in more overseas markets.

The MWC Barcelona meet held in February/March is traditionally a good opportunity to land in Europe. OEMs including HONOR, vivo and OPPO are expected to show their premium offerings and cutting-edge technologies during this year’s event.


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