Apple Sinks From First to Fifth Place in Chinese Smartphone Market

Analytics company Canalys has released its latest report on China's smartphone market for the first quarter of 2024, and Apple has come off worst among the top five brands jostling for supremacy in Asia's largest economy.

iphone 15 china
Huawei returned to the top spot after 13 quarters with a 17% market share. The local vendor shipped 11.7 million smartphones, thanks to its popular Mate and nova series, while OPPO rose to second place on strong performance of its Reno 11 series, shipping 10.9 million units. Conversely, HONOR, vivo, and Apple all slowed their sell-ins in the quarter, ranking third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

HONOR shipped 10.6 million units with a 16% share, a year-on-year increase of 9%, while vivo shipped 10.3 million units with a 15% share, a year-on-year decrease of 9%. Apple declined the most among the top five, sinking to fifth from first place, with 10 million units and a 15% share, which is a year-on-year decrease of 25%.

Huawei's performance is up 70% from a year earlier, when the company was still reorganizing its phone business following U.S. sanctions. Huawei's 5G Mate 60 Pro uses a China-made 7-nanometer processor tailored for the local market, showcasing the kind of advanced semiconductor manufacturing capabilities that US sanctions were originally designed to prevent.

Huawei has since released its new Pure line of flagship smartphones, and has been busy developing its own operating system, HarmonyOS, since it could not use Google's Android and Google Mobile Services. The continued expansion of the HarmonyOS ecosystem breaks the two-horse race of Android and iOS in Mainland China.

canalys china smartphone market q1 2024
The latest data is unlikely to make for pleasant reading for Apple's CEO Tim Cook, following his trip to China for the inauguration of a major new store in Shanghai. During his visit, coming on the back of a strong Chinese fourth quarter, Cook announced the expansion of Apple's R&D center in the city, highlighting China's crucial role in the company's strategy. Cook also attended the China Development Forum in Beijing, where he said the country was "critical" to Apple.

Apple is deepening its ties with China despite expanding production in Southeast Asia and India. Approximately 17% of Apple's net sales from October to December were derived from the greater China region, making it the largest regional supplier in the company's supply chain. But Apple is facing an uphill battle to reverse falling iPhone sales there, with a 24% year-on-year decline in 2023 projected to deepen through 2024.

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Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
4 weeks ago
With little to no changes, same design, extremely high prices, low storage - nothing but pure greed, what's to expect?
Score: 93 Votes (Like | Disagree)
petsk Avatar
4 weeks ago
Doesn't look too good for Apple. iPhone has stagnated completely, not even a foldable phone yet. Mac OS gets worse with each release. Vision Pro flopping.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SmugMaverick Avatar
4 weeks ago

With little to no changes, same design, extremely high prices, low storage - nothing but pure greed, what's to expect?
Spot on.

Some will claim its all the Chinese governments doing but let's be honest, brutally honest, Apple has no innovation left for iPhone and hasn't in 7 years now.

They use to have an actual designer in charge of hardware, now its bean counter Jeff Williams and you can see where that's got us, same design for 5 years, no AI, extra buttons.

but but but apple are working on AI now!!! yeah, 2 years too late.

Expect the same all over the world during the next year or so, except for the US because they've got some weird fantasy about bubbles while ignoring everything else.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
goshya Avatar
4 weeks ago
The incompetence of some Apple managers is astonishing. ****** hardware compared to basically all Chinese brands (60hz displays, seriously? Bad reception in China etc.) Chinese killer apps don’t run smoothly on Apple devices (Try WeChat with Apple Watch, no notifications for calls). I’m sorry to say that the color of iMessages is of no importance to anyone in China and instead of improving iOS, it gets buggier with every iteration. Hard to recommend an iPhone to my Chinese colleagues these days.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AlmightyKang Avatar
4 weeks ago
The economics and reasoning behind this is not as obvious as it looks.

Chinese economy is collapsing which is reducing disposable income to spend on technology. That forces people back to inland brands because they are much cheaper. Also the government is restricting use of Apple devices in government positions. This is not because Apple are insecure in particular but because the government has no control over the provision of devices. Looking at political allegiances, there is a West vs East divide and they are hedging their bets on retaining control over their population's devices much like Russia did last year. This increases mindshare of devices when there are so many "government" employees in China.

So don't blame Apple, blame failing Chinese economic policy and geopolitical tensions.

Anyway if you go and look at the backers for some of these other companies you will see the Chinese government directly or indirectly involved.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deaglecat Avatar
4 weeks ago
This is why ecosystem lock-in is so important to Apple in the west... objectively, the hardware alone is no longer competitive.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)