Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled almost 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 5.6 percent decline over the same period of the previous year, the report showed. That was the first annual drop in the market since Gartner started tracking the sector in 2004. "First, upgrades from feature phones to smartphones have slowed down due to a lack of quality "ultra-low-cost" smartphones and users preferring to buy quality feature phones". Two is that smartphone companies tend to keep quality models for a longer period of time, not replacing them which provides less option for smartphone users to buy a new phone.
In Gartner's Q4 sales stats, Samsung maintained a narrow lead in global volume shipments of smartphones - but every major (top five) vendor outside of those based in China saw unit shipments slip.
Huawei grew to nearly 44 million phones sold and strengthened its market share to 10.8 percent from 9.4 a year ago.
Working under the assumption that the iPhone X would sell like hotcakes, Samsung set off to produce and deliver a huge number of OLED (or organic light-emitting diode) screens for Apple's 10th anniversary handset. "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 added. Samsung's next flagship devices are likely to boost its smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018.
"We expect good demand for the iPhone X to likely bring a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018". "Samsung is poised to announce the successors to its Galaxy series of smartphones at Mobile World Congress this year".
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With a total of 7.33 million handsets sold nationwide in 2017, both companies sold more than 1.50 million handsets past year. Huawei, ranked third overall, raised its share in 2017, continuing to gain on Apple.
Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to achieve year-on-year unit growth (7.6% and 79% respectively).
Xiaomi's competitive smartphone portfolio consists of its Mi and Redmi models, which helped accelerate its growth in the emerging Asia-Pacific (APAC) market, as well as its regained hold in the domestic market shares back in China. "Apple was in a different position this quarter than it was 12 months before", said Gupta.
The combined market share of Chinese vendors has increased by 4.2 percent, while Samsung and Apple's market share as the top companies is unchanged.