China’s 2022 smartphone gross sales and shipments lowest in a decade

China saw smartphone sales slump 14% in 2022, marking the fifth consecutive year of decline, according to a Friday report by Hong Kong-headquartered consultancy firm Counterpoint.

Why it matters: Chinese smartphone sales reached their lowest level in a decade as consumers delayed replacing their smartphones due to sluggish macroeconomic conditions and Covid-19 containment measures.

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  • China’s smartphone industry still faces tough challenges in the short term amid supply chain disruption and weak consumer confidence, with gradual improvement expected in the second half of 2023, according to Chinese consultancy CINNO Research.

Details: The top three companies in the Chinese smartphone market last year were Vivo, Apple, and Oppo, holding 19.2%, 18%, and 17.5% of the market respectively.

  • Huawei’s former subsidiary, Honor, was the only brand to record year-on-year sales growth in 2022, up 38% from the previous year. The report noted that the brand’s strong growth was largely due to its low base in 2021.
  • Despite Apple’s sales decline in China, the US tech giant was the second-largest mobile phone brand in the country for the full year, with a 3% year-on-year drop in sales. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Apple achieved its “highest quarterly share ever” in China at 23.7%, the report noted.
  • Foxconn’s major plant in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, the world’s largest iPhone factory, was hit by significant worker unrest related to Covid outbreaks and payment issues in the fourth quarter, which forced Apple to delay shipments of its iPhone 14 series.
  • Huawei outperformed rival brands in the October-December period. While all other top brands saw double-digit percentage sales drops, the Chinese tech giant’s sales grew 15%.
  • China smartphone sales plunged 11% during Singles’ Day 2022, the largest online shopping festival and usually the peak sales period, Counterpoint said in a November report.

Context: Chinese smartphone shipments also reflect an uncertain market, with total shipments of about 286 million units in 2022, down 13.2% from a year earlier and the largest drop ever, market research firm IDC said on Sunday. This is the first time shipments have fallen below 300 million since 2013.

  • The slump in China’s smartphone market is also in line with the industry’s global performance. IDC data shows global smartphone shipments dropped 11.3% from the previous year to about 1.2 billion units in 2022, the lowest figure in a decade.

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