Apple is separating the new smartphones into its usual low-cost versus high-cost categories, with big differences between the two models coming down to the camera, display, and battery life.
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Kuo: Apple Has Opportunity With iPhone XR in China as Chinese Rivals Face 'Lower Than Expected' Demand
Kuo, writing on behalf of research firm TF International Securities, said the estimated 6.5-7 million shipments during Golden Week were "lower than expected." He called Huawei the "major winner" as the only brand with a year-over-year increase in shipments during the October 1-7 holiday.
The well-known analyst attributed the year-over-year decline to a lack of innovative selling points among Chinese-brand smartphones. Kuo is positive on the trends of triple-lens cameras and fingerprint sensors under the display in smartphones, but said only limited models currently support both functions.
Kuo also cautioned that the US-China trade war "may be affecting consumer confidence, which makes the replacement cycle longer."
A third reason is that some consumers—particularly existing iPhone owners—will opt for more affordable legacy iPhone models or wait for the iPhone XR, according to Kuo, who expects replacement demands for the iPhone XR in China will be better than last year's demand for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
Extrapolating from Golden Week, Kuo said smartphone shipments in China in 2018 as a whole may be "lower than expected." He estimates shipments may decline 10-15 percent to 410 million units on a year-over-year basis.
Chinese brands have to rely on overseas markets for further growth, according to the research note, shared with investors Thursday. Kuo remains confident about Huawei's future shipment momentum because the brand has "the best competitiveness among Chinese brands in overseas markets," the note said.
As for Apple, the iPhone XR represents an opportunity for the company to increase its market share and revenue in the Greater China region, where it has faced increasing competition from the likes of Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi.
With a lower starting price of $749 in the United States, the iPhone XR lacks some of the bells and whistles of the flagship iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, including an OLED display and glass rear casing, but it has many identical tech specs and longer battery life than both of the more expensive models.
iPhone XR pre-orders begin Friday, October 19 in more than 50 countries, followed by in-store availability on Friday, October 26.