Driven by the iPhone 13’s stellar performance, Apple regained its throne in the Chinese smartphone market during the fourth quarter of 2021, with a market share reaching 22%, according to a report by Strategy Analytics.
The California-based company delivered 18.5 million units in China to become the top-selling phone brand of the world’s largest smartphone market over the three-month period, the research firm’s senior director Linda Sui said, citing Huawei’s “strategic withdrawal” from the country’s premium smartphone market amid U.S. sanctions.
A report by Counterpoint Research suggested that this is the first time in six years that Apple has claimed the top spot in the country. Meanwhile, Huawei garnered a market share of just 7% in China during the last three months of 2021 with sales plummeting 73% year-on-year. Vivo took second place with a 19% market share, followed by Oppo with 17%. Huawei spin-off brand Honor and Xiaomi’s Q4 market shares were 15% and 13%, respectively.
The late-September release of the iPhone 13 lineup, which featured a better camera system and processors than the iPhone 12, sparked a buying frenzy in China. On the evening of September 17 when the pre-sale for the smartphone series began, the company’s official website in China was crashed by consumers’ enthusiasm, making it impossible to connect to the Apple Store page. Global year-on-year iPhone sales in the December quarter grew 9% to $71.6 billion, beating Wall Street expectations for a 3% rise.
Due to multiple factors including longer upgrade cycles, Covid outbreaks, supply constraints and weaker consumer spending, China’s smartphone shipments fell 6.5% year-over-year to 838 million units in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to Strategy Analytics senior analyst Yiwen Wu. For the full year, China saw its smartphone shipments decline 2% from 336 million units in 2020 to 329.3 million in 2021, added Wu.
However, according to data released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, domestic smartphone shipments reached 342.8 million in 2021, which is 15.9% higher than in 2020, but still below the 2019 pre-pandemic level.