China smartphone shipments called record drop in Q1

Photo by Jimmy Chang

Smartphone shipments in China fell by a record 20.3 percent to 66.6 million units in the first quarter of 2020 from 83.6 million units a year ago, according to the latest report from IDC.

IDC said this “largest decline ever” in China was due to supply chain disruptions as well as a demand slump caused by lockdowns and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“February was the trough of the quarter before the market started its recovery in March, both in terms of production and demand,” said Will Wong, research manager for client devices at IDC Asia-Pacific.

“Nevertheless, demand will still be under pressure from the global economic downturn,” said Wong. “The market is only expected to achieve annual growth in the fourth quarter as the global COVID-19 situation hopefully improves and 5G products reach a lower price range.”

Huawei was the top smartphone vendor during the first quarter, mainly due to its early price promotions on Huawei’s Mate 30 and P30 series, along with significant price cuts on Honor’s V30 and 9X series.

Also, Huawei’s tablet and notebooks helped to attract foot traffic to its offline stores as consumers sought the devices for work at home and online learning.

Trailing Huawei are vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi. At fifth, Apple suffered worse as its factories resumed production more gradually than the competition.

In China, a total of 23.8 million 5G smartphones have been shipped since the third quarter of 2019. By the first quarter of 2020, more than one-fifth of smartphones were shipped with 5G connectivity – with Huawei accounting for more than 50% of the share.

“Consumer sentiment in China will be negatively impacted by the global economy,” says Xi Wang, research manager for client system research at IDC China.

“But China also recovered from the pandemic earlier than most countries, which will make it an attractive market during the rest of the year, especially with the expected surge of 5G activity,” said Wang.