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Smartphone sales in China fell to the lowest level in a decade in 2022, Vivo’s best-selling brand: report

Smartphone sales in China suffered a record drop in 2022, falling 13 percent to their lowest level in a decade as COVID-19 measures and a slowing economy sapped consumer appetite, data from third-party research firms showed.

The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, up from 329 million in 2021. It was the lowest sales volume since 2013 and the first time since then annual sales fell below 300 million, IDC said in a report.

Strict controls on COVID-19 hit the Chinese economy hard last year, but Beijing began lifting restrictions in December, boosting consumption.

“Strict pandemic policies have led to historically high household savings as consumer spending has turned conservative,” said Lucas Zhong, who tracks the Chinese smartphone sector for research firm Canalys.

Android phone maker Vivo was the top-selling brand in 2022, with an 18.6% market share, according to IDC. Total shipments fell 25.1% compared to last year.

Honor, a subsidiary of Huawei Technologies, was the second-best-selling brand with shipments up more than 34 percent, albeit from a low base.

Apple was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022 alongside Oppo, up from fourth place the previous year.

Apple’s total sales fell 4.4% year-on-year, while sales of all other competitors except Honor fell in double digits, according to IDC.

Overall, the drop in smartphone sales in China reflected the global performance of the sector. Global smartphone shipments reached 1.2 billion in 2022, the lowest since 2013, according to IDC, with a year-on-year decline of more than 11 percent.

A separate report by Canalys released on Monday said Apple sold 16.4 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2022, down 24 percent from last year. This is compared to a 37.3% drop in Xiaomi shipments and a 14.1% drop in Honor sales in the same quarter.

This is the first time Apple’s shipments to China have declined year-on-year since early 2020, when the country was swept by the first wave of COVID-19. Canalys said the drop was caused by the earlier release of the latest series of iPhones, as well as worker unrest at the main manufacturer Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant, which affected its supply chain.

However, Apple remains the top-selling phone maker in China this quarter, achieving an all-time high market share, Canalys added.

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