Apple's iPhone shipments declined massively in China last month

Apple's iPhone shipments declined massively in China last month
The iPhone 11 got off to such a great start in China that Apple returned to growth for the first time in twelve months. But according to one analyst, that new-found success was unfortunately very short-lived.

iPhone sales are down dramatically in China

The latest data gathered by Credit Suisse analyst Matt Cabral suggests Apple experienced a very noticeable 10.3% year-on-year drop in iPhone shipments throughout October in China. This was followed by an even bigger and more worrying 35.4% year-on-year decline in November. 

Corroborating the news is an earlier report by Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang that says Apple is in the process of cutting iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max production by 25% for the current quarter. It should be followed up by further decreases in early 2019 for the standard iPhone 11.

Apple experienced one of its worst results in years during the 2018 holiday season in China, so any further declines could be very significant for the company which has been hoping for a rebound recently.

Credit Suisse does warn that monthly shipment data can be “volatile” but the results nevertheless paint an even bleaker picture when contrasted against the rest of the market which, overall, experienced a slight year-on-year growth of 0.2%.

Another factor worth noting is the different release cycle Apple adopted this year. In 2018, the Cupertino giant released the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max in late September but delayed the iPhone XR until late October. This created a one-off boost that clearly hasn’t been repeated this time around because Apple decided to release all of its iPhone 11 models in September.

Apple's hoping 5G iPhones will save it next year

It’s believed Apple’s poor performance in China may also have something to do with the growing interest in 5G. The company’s smartphones are only compatible with 4G LTE networks yet local consumers are now looking to purchase future-proof devices.

Apple is working hard to fix this situation by releasing up to four 5G-ready iPhones next year but these aren’t expected to debut until mid-September, so its performance throughout most of 2020 is expected to be pretty poor in the grand scheme of things.

To refresh your memory, the Silicon Valley-based brand is reportedly developing four iPhone 12 models. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is expected to be the highlight of the bunch thanks to its massive 6.7-inch OLED display that makes use of a redesigned notch and slimmer bezels.

It’ll be accompanied by a smaller iPhone 12 Pro which should include a 6.1-inch OLED display with the same characteristics. Both of these Pro-branded iPhones are also expected to feature a triple-camera setup on the rear accompanied by a new 3D sensing system that’s more advanced than Face ID. 

People on tighter budgets are on track to gain access to two devices next year rather than one. The first will probably be called the iPhone 12 and is reportedly going to feature a compact 5.4-inch OLED display that’ll borrow the notch and bezels from this year’s iPhone 11 Pro. 

It should be slightly smaller than the iPhone 8 but a little bigger than the iPhone SE and will cram in a dual-camera setup on the back. This layout should be carried over to the larger iPhone 12 Plus which is rumored to include a 6.1-inch display. 

These iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro phones will all be powered by the next-generation A14 Bionic chipset. Rumors suggest it’ll be paired with a 4/64GB base configuration on the standard models and a 6/128GB setup on the Pro-branded alternatives.



1. Whitedot

Posts: 893; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

I wouldn't be surprised if the person's who own Iphone social score is somewhat lower than the one that doesn't. It may sound shocking but it's China. Anyway if Apple ever wants to penetrate China market it has to forget large margins it used to in western world and rely on the services more. "It’s believed Apple’s poor performance in China may also have something to do with the growing interest in 5G. ". Very unlikely.

3. mackan84

Posts: 684; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Next to none in China uses western services either so that would be a really bad idea.

9. Whitedot

Posts: 893; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

It makes iPhone case in China even harder.

10. mackan84

Posts: 684; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

As far as I can see it iPhone 11 series will probably sell more iPhones then previous year. Apple and investors will probably be pleased. I think a iPhone release wears off quicker then before and in China something new is released every day. Apple just have to settle for sales when their iPhone is a new release. Might be a reason why their launching a new iPhone (SE2) in March

11. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1485; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

I honestly don't see an iPhone SE2 happening, definitely not in early 2020. Maybe in 2021 if the iPhone 12 doesn't meet expectations. I imagine Apple will use it if their services growth stagnates due to the installed user base no longer growing. Pushing significantly cheaper devices to get your user numbers up. But even that wouldn't guarantee services revenue growth and further will cannibalize higher end model sales and lower the ASP, hurting their profitability. I think for Apple it may be time to realize the iPhone has peaked and the only place to go from here is down.

12. mackan84

Posts: 684; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

iPhone peaked with iPhone 6. They have gone steadily down since then. I still do think that iPhone 11 will give a rise in terms of numbers. A cheaper iPhone will have a body of iPhone 8 and would probably leave a good margin for Apple. They’re ready, they’ve even tried it during the glory days.

2. pooma unregistered

oh poor PhoneArena, start worrying about Apple and forget about Huawei. against your will, Huawei will remain one of the world's top 3 OEMs in terms of market share.

5. joshuaswingle

Posts: 744; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

What a pathetic comment

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31764; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

But this article isn’t about Huawei, it’s about Apple/iPhone. Why did you even need to post that?

6. User123456789

Posts: 1348; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

People prefer a phone with same design that runs android. In China there are 1.000.000 options.

8. joshuaswingle

Posts: 744; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

People in China don’t care about the operating system. The apps are more important. That’s why Apple has a hard time retaining customers like it does elsewhere

13. wickedwilly

Posts: 773; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

You cannot really separate operating systems here, there are only practically 2 in the phone market and one is controlled and less flexible. This leaves the only remaining phone OS which has the apps and flexibility the majority of users in China and elsewhere want.

14. briankeithmays

Posts: 42; Member since: Dec 18, 2013


15. TS020

Posts: 71; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

A phone in China is simply a means to access Tencent apps, and since Tencent apps have more features on Android than they do on iPhone (more access to the OS), consumers will naturally prefer them. Chinese also have some really interesting and high bang-for-buck phones like the Xiaomi range and Vivo NEX models.

16. Mobilephile

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

It's not surprising though. Apple is behind in a market that's thriving with new tech. There are so many better options in China.... while Cook is struggling in a battle with Xiaomi for 3rd/4th place in global market share.

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