The latest update of Smartphone sales across the globe by Gartner has revealed an increase of 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2018, with Huawei and Xiaomi experience the largest growth in the quarter, while Apple returned to growth after sales declined last quarter.

According to Gartner, this is a return to growth compared to the first quarter of 2017, where sales of total mobile phones were a little above 378 million.

First quarter of 2018 recorded nearly 384 million smartphones, representing 84 percent of total mobile phones sold.

“Demand for premium and high-end smartphones continued to suffer due to marginal incremental benefits during the upgrade. Demand for entry-level smartphones (sub-$100) and low midtier smartphones (sub-$150) improved due to better-quality models,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

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.

A breakdown shows Samsung’s midtier smartphones faced continued competition from Chinese brands, which led to unit sales contraction year on year. This is despite the earlier launch of its flagship Galaxy S9/S9+ compared to the S8/S8+ in 2017, and despite the Note 8 having a positive impact on Samsung sales in the first quarter of 2018. Samsung’s smartphone growth rate will remain under pressure through 2018, with Chinese brand’s growing dominance and expansion into Europe and Latin America markets. Samsung is challenged to   raise the average selling price (ASP) of its smartphones, while facing increasing competition from Chinese brands that are taking more market share.

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.”

Gartner is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. The firm provides business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.


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