By Josh Horwitz
SHANGHAI – China’s smartphone sales endured a record fall in 2022, tumbling 13% to their lowest level in a decade as COVID controls and a slowing economy sapped consumer appetite, data from third-party research firms showed.
The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2022. It was the lowest sales volume since 2013 and the first time since then that annual sales have dropped below 300 million, IDC said in a report.
Strict COVID-19 controls weighed heavily on the Chinese economy last year but Beijing started dismantling the restrictions in December, boosting consumption.
“The strict pandemic control poicy has resulted in historically high household savings as consumer spending became conservative,” said Lucas Zhong, who tracks China’s smartphone sector for research firm Canalys.
Android handset maker Vivo was the top-selling brand in 2022, with a market share of 18.6%, according to IDC. Its total shipments fell 25.1% year-on-year.
Huawei Technologies spin-off Honor ranked as the second best-selling brand, with shipments growing more than 34%, albeit from a low base.
Apple Inc was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022, tied with Oppo, moving up from fourth place in the previous year.
Apple’s overall sales fell 4.4% year-on-year, according to IDC, while all other rivals excluding Honor saw sales fall in the double digits.
Overall, the plunge in smartphone sales in China reflected the sector’s performance globally. In 2022, global smartphone shipments hit 1.2 billion, the lowest since 2013 and a year-on-year fall of more than 11%, according to IDC.
A separate report from Canalys published on Monday said that in the fourth quarter of 2022, Apple sold 16.4 million devices, down 24% year-on-year. This compared to a 37.3% shipments slump from Xiaomi and Honor’s 14.1% fall during the same quarter.
That marks the first time Apple shipments dropped year-on-year in China since early 2020, when the first wave of COVID-19 swept the country. The fall was caused by an earlier release of the latest iPhone series as well as by worker unrest at its major manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in the city of Zhengzhou that impacted its supply chain, Canalys said.
Still, Apple remained the top-selling phone maker in China in the quarter, hitting record-high market share, Canalys added.