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Insights from IDC: Which smartphone makers are leading in China?

In late April, American market research firm IDC released their report on the global smartphone market for Q1 2016. We talked again to an IDC analyst to find out why certain smartphone makers are leading the market in China.

According to the IDC press release on April 27, vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones globally in the first quarter of 2016, up slightly from 334.3 million in Q1 2015. The main reasons for the small YoY growth include a saturated smartphone market and the decline of Apple and Samsung.

Surprisingly, Chinese smartphone makers OPPO and Vivo respectively replaced Lenovo and Xiaomi as the fourth- and fifth- ranking smartphone vendors. OPPO made 18.5 million shipments in Q1 2016, a 153.2% YoY increase. And Vivo shipped 14.3 million smartphones, a 123.8% YoY increase.

“OPPO and Vivo have spent a lot on marketing, advertising and expanding their retail shops. These have all helped increase their brand awareness,” IDC senior market analyst Xiaohan Tay told AllChinaTech on Wednesday.

Xiaomi saw a slight YoY decline in smartphone shipments in Q1 2016. The main reason for this is fierce competition from other brands in China. Xiaomi launched its Mi Max smartphone on Tuesday with the biggest screen yet, which some see as an attempt by the company to win their spot back.

“Xiaomi wants to cover more segments of the smartphone market with the Mi Max. But its strength still lies in its low-end Redmi series,” said Tay.

Apple also saw a 16.3% decline YoY globally, with 51.2 million shipments in Q1 2016. The company’s controversial four-inch iPhone SE has been seen as a measure to boost its smartphone sales. However, Tay is still optimistic about its performance.

“Apples saw a decline because it was compared with a high Q1 2015 shipment, when Apple first came up with larger-screen iPhones. Apple will pick up growth when it launches the iPhone 7,” said Tay.

After the iPhone SE, Chinese vendors including Huawei, Meizu and Nubia launched their own smartphones with screens of around five inches. A wave of small-screen smartphones seems to be catching on in China.

But Tay said it has nothing to do with the iPhone SE, whose screen size is much smaller. She thinks the trend is still moving towards smartphones with a larger screen of at least five inches.

Huawei continued its dominance in the Chinese market. It made 27.5 million shipments in Q1 2016, a 58.4% YoY increase. The company’s recent launch of the P9 with dual-lens Leica cameras provided it with a new weapon against Apple. But Tay does not think Huawei will surpass Apple in terms of shipments made globally in 2016.

(Top photo from baidu images)

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