Global sales of smartphones to end users returned to growth in the first quarter of 2018 with a 1.3 percent increase over the same period in 2017, according to Gartner. Compared to the first quarter of 2017 sales of total mobile phones stalled and reached 455 million units in the first quarter of 2018.
Nearly 384 million smartphones were sold in the first quarter of 2018, representing 84 percent of total mobile phones sold. “Demand for premium and high-end smartphones continued to suffer due to marginal incremental benefits during upgrade,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “Demand for entry-level smartphones (sub-$100) and low midtier smartphones (sub-$150) improved due to better-quality models.”
Continued weakness in Greater China’s mobile phone market also limited growth potential for the top global brands, including Chinese brands such as OPPO and Vivo, with over 70 percent of their sales coming from Greater China
Samsung’s midtier smartphones faced continued competition from Chinese brands, which led to unit sales contraction year on year. The delayed sales boost for Apple from last quarter materialized. Apple’s smartphone unit sales returned to growth in the first quarter of 2018, with an increase of 4 percent year on year.
“Even though demand for Apple’s iPhone X exceeded that of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the vendor struggled to drive significant smartphone replacements, which led to slower-than-expected growth in the first quarter of 2018,” said Mr. Gupta. “With its exclusive focus on premium smartphones, Apple needs to significantly raise the overall experience of its next-generation iPhones to trigger replacements and lead to solid growth in the near future.”
Huawei’s refreshed smartphone portfolio helped strengthen its No. 3 global smartphone vendor position.
“Achieving 18.3 percent growth in the first quarter of 2018 helped Huawei close the gap with Apple,” said Mr. Gupta.
Xiaomi was the clear winner of the first quarter, achieving a growth of 124 percent year on year. Xiaomi’s refreshed portfolio of smartphones and aggressive pricing strategy helped it hold the No. 4 spot in the first quarter of 2018. “This strategy led Xiaomi to achieve 330 percent growth in the Emerging Asia/Pacific region,” said Mr. Gupta.