Smartphone shipments in China saw robust growth that was higher than the worldwide average in the first quarter of 2021, as Chinese brands Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo grabbed three of the top five spots in global rankings, according to new data from market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Shipments to the Chinese market rose 35 per cent year on year, compared with 24 per cent around the globe.

The growth spurt, driven by healthy demand from consumers swapping out ageing devices and a strong push on 5G handsets from Chinese vendors, was the highest since 2015, according to Strategy Analytics.

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Xiaomi held third place among global vendors for the second quarter in a row, trailing Samsung and Apple in the first and second place respectively. The market share of the Beijing-based and Hong Kong-listed company, now at 15 per cent, was up 10 per cent from a year ago.

“[Xiaomi] maintained strong momentum in both India and China, and the expansion in Europe, Latin America and Africa also started to bear fruit,” Linda Sui, director of smartphone research at Strategy Analytics, said in the report.

Oppo, excluding its subsidiaries Realme and OnePlus, remained the fourth-largest global smartphone vendor with a market share of 11 per cent. It was followed by Vivo, Oppo’s sister brand also owned by Guangzhou-based gadget behemoth BBK Electronics, whose shipments jumped 85 per cent year on year.

The three Chinese vendors together sold 124 million smartphones, accounting for 37 per cent of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics. 

Meanwhile Huawei Technologies Co, the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor in 2020, fell out of the top five as it continues to grapple with draconian restrictions imposed by Washington that limit its access to US technologies.

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Chinese smartphone vendors have been jostling at home and abroad to snatch Huawei’s market share with new 5G devices.

In March, 16 new 5G handset models were released in China.

A total of 27.5 million 5G smartphones were sold that month, accounting for more than 76 per cent of all mobile phones shipped in the country, according to a report published last week by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a research institute under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Despite the double-digit growth in smartphone shipments last quarter, the global chip shortage that is affecting the smartphone industry could put a dent in some businesses in the coming months, said Strategy Analytics’ Sui.

“Chip shortages and supply-side constraints did not have a significant impact in the first quarter among the top five brands, but were and will be a concern for smaller vendors over the next few quarters,” Sui said. 

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.



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