The world's largest smartphone market is not expected to see growth until 2024

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The world's largest smartphone market is not expected to see growth until 2024
The world's largest smartphone market is not the United States. Heck, the U.S. isn't even number two. China is number one followed by India with the U.S. in third place. But the Chinese smartphone market did not have a great 2022 and growth is not expected this year either according to analysts. The Chinese market might not show any growth until 2024 thanks to issues with the supply chain and weak consumer spending.

Research firm IDC estimates that smartphone shipments in China declined by 10% in 2022 to 285 million units. According to the English-language South China Morning Post (SCMP), IDC analyst Will Wong (based in Singapore), sees wealthy Chinese consumers not bothering to upgrade their phones this year and are more interested in overseas travel. Other consumers in China are just looking to reduce their spending. "The Chinese smartphone market is only expected to see full-year growth in 2024," Wong says.

Smartphone sales have been weak in China even during the Singles' Day holiday


The weakness in the Chinese smartphone market isn't something that came out of the blue. For the first 11 months of last year, smartphone shipments were down 23.6% year-over-year according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). The latter is a scientific research institute run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.


Even this past November's Singles' Day was a flop. This is an unofficial Chinese holiday that falls on November 11 and it kicks off a season known for discounts on smartphone prices. The holiday celebrates those in China who are not in a relationship. Typically, phone sales in the country peak during this holiday. For 2022, Singles' Day smartphone sales plunged by 36% on an annual basis to 22.2 million phones.

A separate report from CINNO Research said that the November 2022 sales in China were the worst for the month since 2015. The research firm says it was the 10th consecutive month of lower year-over-year growth in Chinese smartphone sales. This trend started in February 2022 and is still continuing.

CINNO analyst Charlie Zhou pointed out that "Despite the Singles' Day and other promotional activities, the market is far less enthusiastic than in previous years." All of the top five smartphone brands in China suffered huge annual declines in sales during November. Apple, the top brand, sold 4.8 million iPhone units that month while the largest decline in sales during Singles' Day was the 36.2% plunge by fifth-ranked Vivo to 3.2 million units.

Chinese smartphone sales in 2022 will total 250 million to 260 million units according to CINNO. This would make it the worst year for smartphone sales in the world's top market since 2015. CINNO's Zhou doesn't expect a quick recovery for the Chinese smartphone market this year. "Industrial production and market consumption will take time to recover gradually, and the impact (of China's Covid policies) is expected to continue through the first half of 2023."

Smartphone innovation is coming from China


And while Huawei came roaring back with strong demand for its flagship Mate 50 series, Xiaomi recently announced that 10% of its workforce will be laid-off after it dismissed 900 workers earlier this year. Among those getting axed were group president Wang Xiang and a pair of company co-founders.

A lot of the innovation taking place in the smartphone industry is happening in China and some of it is coming from brands owned by BBK Electronics. That company owns five of the top smartphone brands in China including Oppo, Vivo, Realme, OnePlus, and iQOO. For example, next month Realme is expected to introduce the GT Neo 5 which will offer 240W fast charging. That is the fastest charging speed available on devices using USB-C charging ports.

The 4600mAh battery that will keep the lights on the Realme GT Neo 5 variant with 240W charging (there is another model with a 5000mAh battery and 150W charging) could charge from 0% to 100% in just nine minutes. Imagine being able to top off your phone's battery in under 10 minutes.
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