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Gartner Says Global Smartphone Sales Declined 2.7% in First Quarter of 2019

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 2.7% in the first quarter of 2019, totaling 373 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. Despite its absence from the U.S., Huawei maintained its ranking as the No. 2 smartphone vendor worldwide and continued to reduce the gap with Samsung.

“Demand for premium smartphones remained lower than for basic smartphones*, which affected brands such as Samsung and Apple that have significant stakes in high-end smartphones,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “In addition, demand for utility smartphones* declined as the rate of upgrading from feature phones to smartphones has slowed, given that 4G feature phones give users great advantages at a lower cost.”

Slowing innovation in flagship smartphones and rising prices continued to extend replacement cycles. The two countries that sell the most smartphones, namely the U.S. and China, saw sales decline by 15.8% and 3.2%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2019.

In the first quarter of 2019, Samsung retained the top spot in worldwide smartphone sales achieving 19.2% market share (see Table 1). Huawei achieved the highest year-over-year growth among the world’s top five, growing 44.5% and smartphone sales totaling 58.4 million units.

Sales of Huawei smartphones grew in all regions. “Huawei did particularly well in two of its biggest regions, Europe and Greater China, where its smartphone sales grew by 69% and 33%, respectively,” said Mr. Gupta. Huawei’s continued dominance in Greater China, where it commanded a 29.5% market share, helped it secure the No. 2 global smartphone vendor ranking in the first quarter of 2019.

Table 1

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 1Q19 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor

1Q19

Units

1Q19 Market Share (%)

1Q18

Units

1Q18 Market Share (%)

Samsung

71,621.1

19.2

78,564.8

20.5

Huawei

58,436.2

15.7

40,426.7

10.5

Apple

44,568.6

11.9

54,058.9

14.1

OPPO

29,602.1

7.9

28,173.1

7.3

Vivo

27,368.2

7.3

23,243.2

6.1

Others

141,405.2

37.9

159,037.1

41.5

Total

373,001.4

100.0

383,503.9

100.0

Due to rounding, numbers may not add up precisely to the totals shown

Source: Gartner (May 2019)

“Unavailability of Google apps and services on Huawei smartphones, if implemented, will upset Huawei’s international smartphone business which is almost half of its worldwide phone business. Not the least it brings apprehension among buyers, limiting Huawei’s growth in the near term,” said Mr. Gupta.

Samsung and Apple Recorded Year-Over-Year Declines

Despite a decline in its smartphone sales of 8.8% in the first quarter of 2019, Samsung remained the No. 1 smartphone vendor worldwide. “Samsung launched its flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone portfolio, which received a good response. However, its impact was limited as Samsung only started shipping the S10 at the end of the first quarter,” said Mr. Gupta. “Samsung also strengthened its midtier and entry-tier smartphone ranges with a refreshed A series and J series and the newly introduced M series, but aggressive competition from Chinese manufacturers limited their impact.”

Sales of Apple iPhones totaled 44.6 million units in the first quarter of 2019, a decline of 17.6% year over year. “The price cut for iPhones across markets helped drive up demand but wasn’t enough to restore growth in the first quarter,” said Mr. Gupta. “Apple is facing longer replacement cycles as users struggle to see enough value benefits to justify replacing existing iPhones.”

Competition for the No. 5 Spot Continued

Vivo beat Xiaomi to claim the No. 5 spot in the first quarter of 2019. Vivo sold 27.4 million smartphones during the quarter. Xiaomi sold 27.2 million.

The latest features, such as in-display fingerprint scanner, slider camera, fast charging and almost bezel-less display, helped Vivo achieve double-digit smartphone sales growth in the first quarter of 2019. “However, the company could do much better by expanding its range of its entry-tier smartphones and selling them in emerging Asia/Pacific markets,” said Mr. Gupta.

Further information is available in the Gartner report titled “Market Share: PCs, Ultramobiles and Mobile Phones, All Countries, 1Q19Update.”

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