Apple iPhone 11 was China's top selling smartphone during the first quarter
The Apple iPhone 11 has been a big winner for Apple. Driven by the powerful A13 Bionic chipset (each containing 8.5 billion transistors), the phone sports two cameras on the back (a 12MP Wide and a 12MP Ultra-wide), a 6.1-inch LCD display and a front-facing 12MP FaceTime camera. The battery provides up to one hour of additional life compared to 2018's iPhone XR which had the best battery life of any iPhone ever, a title that now belongs to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Priced at $699 for the 64GB model, the iPhone 11 was responsible for close to 40% of all U.S. iPhone sales during the fourth quarter.
According to Counterpoint Research, the iPhone 11 was also the best selling smartphone in China during the first quarter and has had that position for seven consecutive months. With Chinese Apple Stores closed in February, consumers in the country made their iPhone purchases through e-commerce platforms.The iPhone 11 offers many of the same features that are found on the more expensive iPhone 11 Pro models for a few hundred dollars less. This explains its popularity among iPhone buyers.
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Apple trailed only Huawei in Chinese smartphone sales during the first quarter
Last year a wave of patriotism spread over the country following Huawei's placement on the Entity List and Chinese consumers viewed the U.S. as a schoolhouse bully seeking to steal Huawei's lunch money and dunk its head in the toilet. As a result, Chinese consumers snatched up Huawei handsets in mind-boggling numbers. For example, during the third quarter of last year, Huawei had a 42.4% share of smartphone shipments in China. Huawei's 66% increase in handset deliveries year-over-year was impressive and favorably compared to Apple's 28% decline year-over-year during the same three month period. Apple shipped 5.1 million units placing it fifth in the country during 2019's third quarter.
Apple outperformed its rivals in China by losing less business than they did
But Apple has improved its position in China greatly. For the first quarter of 2020 covering January through March, Apple was second in smartphone sales in China trailing only Huawei. It really wasn't so much spectacular growth in iPhone sales that helped Apple during the three months; in fact, on an annual basis sales declined 1%. What helped Apple climb the ladder in China was the terrible performance of rival phone manufacturers. For example, Xiaomi's year-over-sales in China during the first quarter declined 35% while Vivo and Oppo had declines of 27% and 30% respectively. As for Huawei, the world's second-largest smartphone manufacturer sold 6% more phones in its home country during the first quarter. And that period doesn't include the release of its new camera-centric P40 series. Those phones were released on April 7th, a week after the first quarter came to an end.
Apple's share of smartphone sales in China during the first quarter was 10%. That was down from the 13% it had during the fourth quarter of 2019 but up from the 8% slice of the pie it earned during the same quarter a year ago. Huawei had the biggest share of China's smartphone market with a whopping 39% during this year's first quarter. That was up incrementally from the previous quarter, but sharply higher from the 29% it had during 2019's first quarter.
Only Apple and Huawei saw their market share in China increase during the first quarter
Counterpoint Research analyst Flora Tang notes, "Apple and Huawei group, managed to increase market share from the same period last year, clearly out-performing the overall market in Q1 2020. Huawei smartphone sales achieved 6% YoY growth and sales of iPhones mildly dropped by 1% only, while their counterparts suffered plummeting sales with double-digit declines. iPhone 11 was the best-selling smartphone model in Q1; it has topped China’s best-selling models list for 7 consecutive months. Consumers continued to purchase iPhones from e-commerce platforms despite the shutdown of Apple stores across China during February. As for the Huawei group, it continued to lead and gained share with a complete product portfolio covering the entry-level to premium segments. Huawei Mate 30 5G, Mate 30 Pro 5G, Huawei Nova 6 5G, and HONOR 9X were all among the top-selling models list during the quarter."