China smartphone market declines by 11% in 2020, Huawei hit hard

smartphone market

In light of the U.S. sanctions and pressure on the Chinese telecom sector, especially Huawei, during the past few years, some of the consequences of this policy are beginning to emerge.

Although pressures did not initially affect the sector, however, this situation did not last long after China’s smartphone market closed with 84 million unit shipments in Q4 of 2020 with a decline of 4 percent YoY, according to a report by Canalys, a global technology market analyst firm.

In parallel, the overall handset shipments fell by 11 percent year on year, reaching 330 million units.

Huawei affected by sanctions

As such, Huawei was the main cause for this drawback having sanctions affecting the performance which declined instantly, in addition to hindering the overall market recovery.

After having a rough time recovering from the effect 2020 had on it, the Chinese tech giant’s smartphone market share diminished from 41 percent in Q3 2020 to 22 percent in Q4 2020, as it managed to ship only 18.8 million units, according to Canalys.

“It was possibly the toughest time for Huawei since it was under restraint to even serve its home market,” Nicole Peng, Canalys VP of Mobility said. “Huawei’s sell-in shipments shrunk by nearly half sequentially, despite the huge demand for Huawei devices, as the vendor are unable to fulfill this demand in the foreseeable future. Other vendors are eyeing this opportunity,” she added.

On the other hand, rival company Oppo took advantage of Huawei’s struggle by placing itself into second place, recording a growth of 23 percent YoY and shipped 17.2 million units.

“Honor is also a player we shouldn’t ignore in China in 2021, as the vendor has inherited most of Huawei’s strengths and aims to win over Huawei’s loyal customers,” Canalys stressed.

Fellow Chinese company Vivo came in third, with 15.7 million shipments and a year-on-year growth of 20 percent, whilst Apple was not far behind either.

Apple’s great year

The California-based tech giant, which reached a market cap of $2 trillion in 2020 and is riding on the success of the iPhone 12, reported its best performance in China in recent years, shipping more than 15.3 million units in the fourth quarter.

These commitments produced instant results, and market share improved during couple of months, reflecting that 2021 will be a year of expansion for Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi.

“Apple had a great year in China, where full year shipments finally returned to the 2018 level, driven by both iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models. Apple recorded its highest quarterly shipments in China since Q4 2015 when iPhone 6S was launched,” said Canalys.

For the first time since 2014, Huawei fell out of the top five to take the sixth position in global smartphone deliveries in the final quarter.