China’s Smartphone Sales Increase for the First Time in Two Years in Q4 2023

In a market turnaround, China’s smartphone sales saw a 6.6% year-over-year (YoY) growth in the fourth quarter of 2023. This marks the first quarterly increase after ten consecutive quarters of decline, according to Counterpoint research.

Source: Counterpoint

Despite experiencing a 9.0% YoY decrease in sales, Apple managed to retain its leading position in the market with a 20.2% share in Q4. Xiaomi, with a 16% market share, and Honor, holding 15.2%, followed closely behind. Huawei’s sales surged by 71.1%, attributed to the introduction of its own 5G chipsets, which contributed to the market’s recovery.

Throughout 2023, China’s smartphone sales overall witnessed a 1.4% YoY decrease, which is an improvement compared to the 13.9% decline in 2022. In the annual market share rankings, Apple led with 17.9%, followed by vivo at 16.9% and Oppo at 16.2%.

Source: Counterpoint

The growth in Q4 2023 can be attributed to several factors, including the low base in Q4 2022 and the introduction of new Huawei phones. Huawei’s Kirin chipset and the aggressive marketing and distribution strategies of Xiaomi and Honor are key factors to their growth, as well as contributions from Xiaomi’s Mi 14 series, Honor’s X50 series, and the Honor 100.

Apple faced increased competition from Huawei in Q4 2023, and the performance of its iPhone 15 series was described as lukewarm, particularly in contrast to the strong sales of the iPhone 14 series in the first half of the year. Oppo and vivo, however, did not seem to benefit much from the market recovery in the quarter.

Looking into 2024, Counterpoint forecasts a low single-digit YoY growth for China’s smartphone market. The mid-end Nova 12 series from Huawei, featuring 5G Kirin chipsets, is expected to attract loyal users. Additionally, Apple has implemented price cuts in January to leverage the market recovery and counteract competition from local manufacturers. Chinese OEMs are anticipated to focus on areas such as generative AI, innovative design like foldables, and advanced imaging technologies to boost sales and expand their user bases.