At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, China is in the ascendant, with firms like Huawei, Xiaomi and ZTE starting to make serious inroads.
Apple and Samsung are still in the lead but we are seeing more competition from the Chinese brands
They are muscling in on the smartphone market with their mid-range, and often cheaper, devices challenging the dominance of Samsung and Apple.
“The smartphone market is slowing down a little bit, economic headwind plus saturation in major markets is making the smartphone market a little bit slower,” said Neil Mawston, smartphone market analyst at Strategy Analytics.
“Apple and Samsung are still in the lead but we are seeing more competition from the Chinese brands like Huawei, like ZTE, like TCL Alcatel – and competition is getting extremely tough.”
To get ahead the newcomers are prepared to spend big money. Huawei spokeswoman Tina Tsai told euronews: “The first part is innovations. We have invested, I think, last year more than $9 billion (8.16 billion euros) on R&D. In Europe, for instance, we have more than 15,000 people working only on R&D.”
Which has helped Huawei become the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, though with others from its part of the world keen to take that spot.
Lenovo ‘s Global President Gianfranco Lanci, says he is not concerned about other Chinese players entering the market: “There is room for everyone, space for everyone. No doubt.”
The Chinese manufacturers are betting that their cheaper phones with increasingly sophisticated features can attract more budget-conscious customers in Europe, and even in Samsung and Apple’s home markets, South Korea and the United States.