After witnessing its first ever annual decline in shipment 2017, the Chinese smartphone market, once the world’s engine for smartphone growth, continues to slow down. The country’s smartphone shipment dwindled by a drastic 16.65% to 39 million handsets (in Chinese) in the first quarter of 2018, according to a report released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The plunge not only indicates weaker demand from the consumers but also languishing supply form smartphone makers. Only 51 new smartphones made their debut during the period, down 19% compared with a year before.

China’s smartphone shipment (Image credit:MIIT)

Chinese smartphone makers have a grip on the local market with the sales of over 33.49 million handsets or a predominant 85.7%. Of the total newly released devices, 45 were from Chinese smartphone makers, accounting for 88.2% of the total. But the overall drop affected everyone in the field, shipment from Chinese makers dipped 18% year-on-year.

Market share of smartphone between Chinese (85.7%) and overseas makers (14.3%) (Image credit:MIIT)

Android system still dominates China, representing a 92.9% of the smartphones shipped in the period.

As a satuating market slows down the growth, more Chinese smartphone makers are exploring opportunities in the overseas market.  Leading players like Xiaomi, Vivo, and OPPO have seen momentum in South East Asian markets and Huawei in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

But these inroads are not without twists and turns. Xiaomi has been entangled in a series of patent litigations ever since its India expansion. Huawei, on the other hand, had their American dream fall apart after the failed deal with US telecom carrier AT&T.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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