China’s smartphone market is one of the largest and most competitive in the world. In the first quarter of 2023, the market shipped approximately 65.44 million units, according to the Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracking Report of the International Data Corporation (IDC). This represents a year-on-year decrease of 11.8%.
Analysis of China’s Smartphone Market in Q1 2023: Top Manufacturers, Trends, and Challenges
The beginning of 2023 has been sluggish for the Chinese mobile phone market. With quarterly shipments declining by more than 10% year-on-year since 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the market. With demand not rebounding significantly after the lifting of epidemic control. Consumers are still affected by factors such as the economic downturn and consumer confidence. As a result, the replacement cycle for mobile phones has continued to lengthen, with more and more consumers using their phones for 3-4 years rather than replacing them frequently.
Manufacturers have also played a role in extending the replacement cycle by advertising that their products will not freeze for 48 months, and by promoting large memory and storage combinations that can further extend the replacement cycle.
Despite these challenges, the top five smartphone manufacturers in China have managed to maintain their positions in the market.
Unpacking China’s Smartphone Market: Top Players, Emerging Trends, and Future Outlook
OPPO returned to the number one position in the domestic mobile phone market with a market share of 19.6% in the first quarter of 2023. The company‘s dual-flagship high-end strategy has begun to bear fruit, with the Find N2 & Flip series topping the Q1 foldable market share. The just-released Find X6 series is also more popular than expected. And OPPO’s high-end market share has increased significantly, ranking among the TOP3.
Apple ranked second in domestic market shipments in the first quarter, with a market share of 17.6%. After the supply fully returned to normal in January, Apple adjusted the price for the first time in less than half a year after the release of the new product. In February, it lowered the channel price of the iPhone 14 Pro & Max, which has a large market demand, and received good market feedback. However, the iPhone 14 & Plus has not improved significantly after the release of the new appearance color.
Vivo ranked third in the first quarter, maintaining strong comprehensive performance competitiveness. The new folding screen product X Fold2 and the first vertical folding product X Flip are ready to go. And are expected to continue to steadily promote Vivo’s share in the high-end market. The S16 series has achieved good market performance in the offline market, helping Vivo win the first place in the market share of 200-400 US dollars. Strengthened cooperation with operators also helps Vivo gain more offline opportunities. The sub-brand iQOO still maintains year-on-year growth, forming a good brand, product, and channel complementarity with Vivo, and maintaining the competitiveness of online channels.
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Honor ranks fourth in the domestic market. All-round product upgrades have enabled the Magic 5 series to gain market recognition. With the largest quarter-on-quarter increase in the high-end market share above $600. Honor made all-round adjustments at the beginning of the year to solve the problems discovered during the rapid recovery of growth last year. In the future, it will still focus on better products to achieve greater breakthroughs.
Xiaomi is still in fifth place. The Xiaomi 13 helped Xiaomi to increase its share in the US$400-600 market by more than 10 percentage points year-on-year. While the Redmi Note 12 series continued to be popular in the market, achieving quarter-on-quarter growth.
The Chinese foldable smartphone market
The folding screen market remained stable in the first quarter of 2023. With shipments reaching 1.02 million units, a year-on-year increase of 52.8%. Among them, the share of vertically folded products continued to rise to 44.3%. With the addition of more manufacturers and the release of more products, it is expected that the Chinese folding screen mobile phone market will continue to grow rapidly in 2023.
In terms of market share, OPPO became the first in the folding screen market share for the first time, reaching 35.0%. Among them, Find N2 Flip occupies nearly 22% of the market share, becoming the hottest model of the season. Huawei is still in second place in the transition period of new and old products. With a market share of 24.9%. Samsung remains stable and ranks third, occupying 18.4% of the market share as in the previous quarter. The Magic Vs series helped Honor obtain a 10.5% market share by virtue of “increasing volume without price increase”, the highest share in history. Xiaomi ranked fifth with a market share of 5.6%, and Vivo’s X Fold+ series is at the end of its product life and still has a 4.5% market share. Lenovo’s market share is 1.1%.
In conclusion, despite the challenges facing the Chinese smartphone market, the top five smartphone manufacturers have managed to maintain their positions in the market. The folding screen market is also growing rapidly, with the addition of more manufacturers and the release of more products. It remains to be seen how the market will perform in the coming quarters. But the competition is likely to remain intense. As manufacturers continue to innovate and offer consumers more advanced features and capabilities.
The Chinese smartphone market is expected to further develop 5G technology. As 5G networks become more common, consumers will want devices that can take advantage of the faster speeds and lower latency that 5G offers. This is likely to increase demand for 5G-enabled smartphones. And manufacturers will respond by releasing more devices that support this technology.