Despite lingering challenges, the global smartphone market is slowly picking up as evidenced by the modest decline of 0.1% year over year, totaling 302.8 million units in the third quarter, based on the data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).
“We are witnessing a substantial increase in smartphone shipments in emerging markets, driven by vendors such as Xiaomi and Transsion,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “This uptick is a positive signal pointing toward an impending recovery.”
However, Popal noted that vendors need to exercise caution and monitor sell-through carefully to prevent an oversupply situation, as demand remains sluggish in various regions.
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Apple, on the other hand, is experiencing growth in all regions except China, where it faces renewed competition from Huawei and heightened macroeconomic uncertainties, prompting consumers to be more discerning in their iPhone purchases.
China smartphone shipments
In China, smartphone shipments witnessed a 6.3% year-over-year decline in 3Q23, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of contraction. This decline can be attributed to rising youth unemployment, an ongoing real estate crisis, and deflation, which have significantly dampened consumer spending and the broader macroeconomic environment in China.
Other regions experienced declines in smartphone shipments, with Europe reporting a decrease of 8.6%, Japan of 5.3%, and the United States of 1.1%. However, emerging markets like the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Latin America (LA), and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan and China) witnessed 3Q23 shipment growth of 18.1%, 8.2%, and 1.3%, respectively.
“The ongoing expansion of the high-end market may seem counterintuitive given the global economic challenges,” said Anthony Scarsella, research director of Mobile Phones at IDC. “Nonetheless, high-end smartphones continue to thrive, thanks to attractive trade-in and financing options in many developed markets.”
Scarsella said that if consumers opt for premium models, the replacement cycle is expected to lengthen. Features like superior build quality, expanded storage, premium functionalities, and extended support lifecycles are enticing buyers towards high-end smartphones, as these devices outlast the most budget-friendly alternatives.