Published: Fri, February 23, 2018
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Smartphone sales dip for the first time, with Huawei, Xiaomi bucking trend

Smartphone sales dip for the first time, with Huawei, Xiaomi bucking trend

"First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed right down due to a lack of quality "ultra-low-cost" smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones".

"Moreover, while demand for high quality, 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales", Gupta noted.

A decade of growth now means most people have access to a smartphone or tablet device, but the latest research will be worrying for the telecoms industry, which has experienced falling sales in China, the world's biggest smartphone market. The introduction of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades for the iPhones 8 and 8 Plus, suggests Gupta, adding component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints - the phone's 3-D sensor that recognizes faces and unlocks the handset were giving Apple partners and laser suppliers headaches - negatively impacted Apple's numbers.

"Global sales of smartphones to end users totalled almost 408m units in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 5.6% decline over the fourth quarter of 2016", Gartner said. This can make the reports of different market research firms contradictory. Prices for the latest and greatest phones have actually increased at the same time U.S. carriers have gotten rid of subsidies.

Even Apple has struggled.

The South Korean tech giant experienced a year-on-year decline of 3.6 percent, while rival Apple also felt a downturn in iPhone sales of roughly five percent. It reported in April 2016 that its iPhone unit sales fell for the first time ever, and they ended up declining for that full year. The company on Sunday will show off its newest phone, the Galaxy S9. Apple's sales have largely rebounded, though they again slid in the December quarter despite the launch of the iPhone X.

For all of 2017, Samsung led the global sales stakes with 321.26 million devices shipped, followed by Apple with 214.92 million, Huawei with 150.5 million, Oppo with 112.12 million and Vivo with 99.6 million. Huawei and Xiaomi were the only two vendors in the top five to register growth in the last quarter.

In 2017 as a whole, smartphone sales to end users totalled more than 1.5bn units, an increase of 2.7% from 2016.

Unfortunately, the potential buyers are the Chinese manufacturers who produce handsets for the budget or mid-range market and prefer to stick to low-priced LCD displays. But Google can rest assured that phones running Android increased their dominance in worldwide sales, claiming 85.9% of the market, compared to iOS's slight shrinkage to 14%.

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