Chinese smartphone market sees a slump after 6 years of growth

China is the world’s biggest market, and that isn’t a surprise, for the country also happens to be the most populous. Here at GizChina though, we focus on the smartphone side of things, and that’s one place where the Chinese market is as exciting as anything.

You may be surprised to hear this amid smartphone launches, booming sales and such, but the number of shipments to the Chinese market has actually decreased — after 6 strong years of growth. Market research firm IDC revealed the astounding fact after a thorough skim of the market.

Smartphone shipments in China fell by 4%, translating to 98.8 million units in the first quarter of 2015.

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“China is often thought of as an emerging market but the reality is that the vast majority of phones sold in China today are smartphones, similar to other mature markets like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan,” added Kitty Fok of IDC China.

According to the report, the number one maker in the Chinese market remains to be Apple with a 14.7% market share, closely followed by ‘China’s Apple’ i.e., Xiaomi with 13.7%. Another noticeable trend is the international expansion that a lot of Chinese brands are undergoing. It seems as though these brands — such as Xiaomi, Meizu, OPPO, etc. — would be happy to retain what they have in China while they continue growing their user base outside the country.

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  1. Aa
    May 11, 2015

    Probably because of a high USD index.

  2. Cpaun
    May 11, 2015

    It was inevitable, for the exact reasons mentioned in the article: too many smartphones were launched, and the matket became oversaturated.

  3. balcobomber25
    May 11, 2015

    It’s inevitable to expand outside of China if any of these companies want to grow. The Chinese market is starting to mature. Right now the key markets for growth are India, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Mexcio, Russia and the countries of South East Asia.

  4. Marius Cirsta
    May 11, 2015

    Well I think there’s not much new that the smartphones of today have to offer. There was once a golden age of the smartphone when you could go from a 2.8 inch 320×240 to a 4 inch 800×640 phone, from a single core A11 to a dual core A9, from 2G to 3G.
    Right now the newest thing you can get is probably 4G but even that is not that new. I really can’t find much in a new phone that my 3 year old LG Optimus G doesn’t have so yeah, maybe that’s a proble.
    Pretty much the same thing happened to PCs, older PCs were just good enough and people didn’t want/need the latest in PC tech ( see nr. of Windows XP install existing in 2015 ).
    With smarphones it’s even worse when people will still hang on to their 2012 Android 4.1.2 phone which is getting no updates whatsoever.

    • balcobomber25
      May 11, 2015

      “Right now the newest thing you can get is probably 4G”

      The newest things you can get are as follow:
      64 bit SoC, DDR4 Ram offered in 4+ GB’s, 2K display, longer lasting batteries, better cameras, fingerprint scanners and more.

      • Marius Cirsta
        May 11, 2015

        * 2K displays are useless ( plenty of explanations why they just use more power and your eyes can’t really spot the difference in such small screens )
        * 64bit does offer some performance advantages but it’s not more of a marketing gimmick
        * DDR4 , this one made me lol , most people don’t even know what that is
        * batteries still offer a crappy usage time in many phones just like they do in my Optimus G, there’s been no significant advances in battery tech ( maybe in the next few years ? )
        * I’ve got a decent 13MP camera in my Optimus G, taking breathtaking quality pictures with my phone is certainly not something I’m aiming for ( got a camera for that )
        * fingerprint scanners are indeed nice but I don’t really trust them so … and not all the latest phone really have them. An iris scanner would probably be better but if not properly implemented still be insescure I guess

        Yes there could be more the point is a development isn’t what it used to be when a new smartphone would just totally rock your world and I think the point people hang on to their existing phones more than they did has arrived.

        • balcobomber25
          May 11, 2015

          I didn’t say all of those were advantages just said that’s whats new. but here’s where I take exception:

          64 bit is mostly marketing right now but it does offer some clear advantages once it is fully realized.

          batteries still offer a crappy usage time? I guess you missed phones like the THL 4000 and 5000. Your phone has crap battery life because it has a 2100mAh battery. Today there are phones with 3000, 4000 and 5000 mAh batteries which with your phone specs would last for days.

          For some people they don’t want to lug around an extra camera when they can have something in their pocket which takes amazing pictures.

          If anything development today is better than it has ever been due to the increasing changes in technology and the fact that there is more competition than anything.

          • Aa
            May 11, 2015

            I have THL 4400 and battery life is fantastic. 😀

            But I agree that smartphones today doesn’t offer anything new, they only build up useless gigabytes and gigahertzes.

            • Marius Cirsta
              May 11, 2015

              That was actually my point… and while there are those long battery life models most smartphones just find new ways of draining the battery like 2K screens ( high res screens use more power )

          • Marius Cirsta
            May 11, 2015

            Well sure batteries have increased but I’d say those 5.5 2K screens probably need more power than my 4.7 720p one so … And the huge battery category was present a log time ago too, one of the first was a Motorola Razr I believe that had a 3000 mAh battery which did last quite a while.

            There were no significant advances in this field in the last 3 years so energy desity probably grew by say 15%-24% (5 – 8 /y) while it’s debatable how much power consumption got better ( because of larger screens with denser pixels requiring more backlight unless LCD tech was able to compansate but I doubt it).

            I don’t want to lug an extra camera but until my phone can give me 4x optical zoom or more and almost DSLR quality photos …. And we’re not really there yet …

            Yes there’s development and yes there’s competition but there’s not much you can really add today that’s a showstopper … It’s all littly gimmicks and feature where and there … I remember back in the day when I got my first phone with a GPS 🙂

            The fact is that besides what you’re saying the Chinese market and I’d guess others too are proving people that own a smartphone are sticking with it … You can look at the Android versions marketshare to see what phones people are using … you’ll see many still use Android 4.1.2 phones and they don’t seem to be buying a new one.

            I like my gadgets but so far I haven’t seriously found anything to offer me something I usefull over my decent Optimus G …

            Some things won’t work anymore, what comes after 2K res ? 4K for a 5.5-6 inch screen ?

        • Muhammad Yasir
          May 12, 2015

          as a CAM guy , I AM OFFENDED!
          you cant take good selfies with a CAMERA , if its NOT on a phone front AND what about times when an interesting EVent suddenly pops up buy you DONT have u DSLR in your pocket to capture it!
          instead its your optimus. what then , eh ?

          • lildwell
            May 13, 2015

            Meh. I keep a nice small camera on me at all times and find selfies to be stupid.

            • Muhammad Yasir
              May 13, 2015

              i find selfies stuuuupid as well… BUT i want a killer cam on my phone ..
              JUST in case something pops up and i MOST DEFINITELY dont have a DSLR on me

            • lildwell
              May 14, 2015

              Sucks for you. I hate using phones as cameras. It feels stupid. To each his own though.

    • realjjj
      May 11, 2015

      Your point is mute.This is China the vast majority of phones in use are small, low res and slow. Even for phones sold today the most popular screen res is 720p.
      There is ample room to upgrade and more than once.

      As for what matters, 4G actually doesn’t worldwide. it’s not available to that many, not that many can afford it (in many places it costs more) and data prices are very high. Specifically in China,why would anyone care about LTE when they got to pay some 10$ per GB and all they can afford is to get some prepayed card and use 700+MB of data per month( that’s about where mobile data usage average is in China).
      CPUs are not yet good enough, GPUs need decades to evolve to good enough, storage is far too slow and small .
      Screens are going higher res but more importantly flexible, foldable and then stretchable Even beyond that ,a stretchable screen can become smarter and stretch by itself instead of the user exercising the necessary force. A screen like that could not only change size but also change pixel density and focus pixels in the areas the user is looking at.
      Connectivity has a long way to go, battery life too.
      And i could keep going with pretty much every single component.

      As for PCs, the software stagnated, the hardware stagnated because OEMs were not investing in R&D, Intel had little to no competition and mobile devices arrived to become the new PC.
      PCs were doing just great before mobile devices but in the end a phone is just a pocket PC so PCs are doing great and just the older form factors aren’t.
      Phones have a long way to go and they’ll be replaced by glasses or something even more evolved well before they reach their limits.

      • bojan radovanovic
        May 12, 2015

        Your eye cant see diference betwen FHD and 2K. Even 720p screens are good enough, as you can’t see dots if you don take phone on your nose.
        procesors ARE there…lok at Apple’s procesors…2 cores and working flowles, as smartphones with WP8 does( even with 512MB of RAM)…it’s just problem with androdi optimisation.
        My 3 years old SGS3 can do all tasks i need.(as redmi 1s can, and many more)…so all ” new” thing at S6 is just unnesessery marketing for me.
        hart rate monitor!?
        Bigger screen, curved one, 4 K resolution…i don’t need it.
        so, yes…i do agree that smartphone industri has slow down with inventions…and going on just with thing they can make marketing points.

        • realjjj
          May 12, 2015

          That’s what you reply to my post? Seriously?
          You are beyond clueless.

          • bojan radovanovic
            May 12, 2015

            Well you have wrote all this “advantiges” that is comming, and i say it’s just shiney poop.
            There is no real usefull advantiges at new phones in last two years.

            pc, camera at my Nokia N8 is still better then any 2015. flagship’s are

  5. Angry Mobile Nerd
    May 11, 2015

    While Apple has experienced year-over-year growth in China. Maybe this “slump” only applies to Android phones.

    • May 13, 2015

      Apple has adapted to the market, and offered stylish bigger phones.

      While Chisese keep delivering same plastic junk as ever with an outdated OS that only few can update to future versions of Android…thankx to Mediatek “openness”.

      Mediatek might suffer as well because their chips are getting more expensive thankx to endless cores added intead of creating lowcore hight performance inexpensive chips. Why not offering a hexacore 2*1.4Ghz A53 + 2*2.0Ghz A53 + 2*2.5Ghz A72 and pay Android One to do the software base for all manufacturers??? Those would have to keep all drivers updated for at least 5 years…with minimum salaries expendidure as they would outsource to Android One all labour cost asociated with their crappy laggy software dev.

      Not to mention faster concept to market ratios than today where phones from people like Doogee, etc are DOA and they subsequently start with price reductions and BS deals…getting lost inside the downwards profit spirale.

      Something is wrong when my Kolina 100+ v6 looks better to me than any current 64bit chinese phones…well my Lollibean ROM might be the reason.

      Anyway, fck you 100+ for not bringing kitkat to my phone!!!


    • lildwell
      May 13, 2015

      Apple is more like a fashion and status symbol. They’re like Jordans.