While China saw smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2018 dropping below 100 million units for the first time since Q1 2013, Huawei continued to lead with 22 per cent market share, a new report said on Wednesday.
Huawei was followed by OPPO and Vivo with 18 percent and 16 percent share, respectively, said Counterpoint Research.
At fourth position, Apple with 14.3 percent share was back to YoY growth since Q1 2015.
At fifth spot, Xiaomi (over 51 percent) and Apple (over 32 percent) were the fastest growing brands among the top five.
"Apple still holds a large user base in China who haven't upgraded in the past two years. Apple is now back to YoY growth in the first quarter since Q1 2015, which is an indication that its older generation iPhone user base is now upgrading," said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director.
China, the world's largest shipper of smartphones, suffered its first-ever decline in the entire year 2017 as device shipments fell four per cent Year-on-Year (YoY) to reach 459 million units.
According to Counterpoint's Market Monitor service, Chinese smartphone shipments slowed in Q1 2018 with YoY decline of 8 per cent and sequential decline of 21 percent.
The top five brands captured a record 82 percent of the market with other OEMs struggling to grow.
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"The slowdown can be attributed to lengthening smartphone replacement cycle for the Chinese consumers. Additionally, lack of product launches in Q1 2018 with OEMs focusing on inventory clearance, especially for non-bezel-less display devices, were other key factors impacting shipment volumes," explained James Yan, Research Director.
Huawei's Honor brand continues to do well in China with almost two-third of Honor sales coming from online channels.
"Additionally, the brand also carried out heavy promotions for its Nova series during the quarter, which drove volume. OPPO and Vivo were the second and third largest brands in China in Q1 2018, capturing a combined one third of the smartphone market," Yan added.
Xiaomi was the fastest growing brand in China during the quarter.
"The growth was driven by Xiaomi's expansion in the offline segment with aggressive promotions," Yan said.