Global smartphone shipments ticked up slightly in the third quarter, reversing seven quarters of decline, according to analyst firm IDC.
The growth was less than 1%, but a relative surprise in a global market shaped by trade tariffs and other market uncertainties.
The market’s return to growth “shows the resilience of this industry as well as the ongoing demand for mobile phones, all in the face of many global macroeconomic challenges,” said Melissa Chou, an analyst at IDC, in a statement on Thursday.
Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom equipment maker, “went full steam” in China smartphone sales after being blacklisted by the U.S., IDC noted. IDC said Shenzhen-based Huawei benefited from a sentiment of nationalism in China, but also from Huawei’s well-rounded product portfolio and favorable distributor terms.
“It is clear Huawei continues to make big gains in China, which remains the world’s largest market,” said Ryan Reith, another IDC analyst. The top Chinese smartphone brands increased shipments to China in preparation for the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday which is on Nov. 11 (11.11), also known as Singles Day.
Also, Apple beat expectations, IDC noted. Even though Apple shipments were slightly down over a year ago, its new iPhone 11 and XR models did well in the quarter especially in the U.S. and western Europe.
The top five phone makers accounted for more than 70% of the world’s smartphone shipments for the time in a quarter, an indication of a consolidation trend.
Overall, shipments reached 358.3 million smartphones in the third quarter, up by 0.8% over a year ago and up 8.1% from the previous quarter.
Samsung was the top smartphone maker in the third quarter, with 78.2 million shipments, up 8.3% from a year earlier. Huawei was second, with 66.6 million, up 28.2%. Apple declined slightly but finished third with 46.6 million; Xiaomi was fourth with 32.7 million, a decrease of 3.3%; OPPO finished fifth with 31.2 million, an increase of 4%