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Huawei overtakes Apple in Q2 smartphone unit shipments

August 1, 2018

According to IHS Markit preliminary smartphone data, global smartphone shipments reached 344.6 million units in the second quarter of 2018 – a 1.8 percent decline year over year, and also down slightly from the previous quarter. Huawei beat Apple, to reach the second-ranked position in global shipments. While Samsung retains the top spot in the shipment ranking, the company recorded its worst quarterly performance since the second quarter of 2013.

Out of the major brands in the market, Samsung suffered the biggest decline in the second quarter. Samsung’s shipments declined 10.8 percent year over year, falling to 70.8 million units. The company’s shipments were also down 9.2 percent quarter over quarter. Samsung is struggling to fight off the competition with its Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus devices, and the company needs the next Galaxy Note to deliver in the latter part of the year. Samsung has been facing severe competition from Chinese manufacturers, especially Huawei and Xiaomi. These two brands have been disturbing Samsung’s smartphone sales in Europe and Asia.

Huawei took a significant step forward in the last quarter, reaching 54.2 million units with growth of 41 percent year over year. The company managed to grow over the previous year in most regions, except in North America. The Asia-Pacific region posted the biggest growth in the second quarter, rising 107 percent year over year, while Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) recorded more than 60 percent growth.

Huawei is shifting to more value-added models, by launching new flagship smartphones with the latest features. Huawei’s P20 Pro is the first flagship smartphone model to be equipped with triple cameras, beating competitors to market. Increasing brand recognition in Europe and Asia is enabling the company to challenge Samsung in many price segments.

Apple shipment volume stayed flat, with just 0.7 percent year-over-year growth, rising slightly to 41.3 million units. While Apple sold six iPhone models in the second quarter of 2017, this year the company sold nine models. However, this increase in the number of models didn’t contribute much to unit-shipment growth in the second quarter of 2018.

iPhone revenue grew 20 percent in the second quarter of 2018, compared to the previous year, which indicates that higher-priced models continue to be popular. The decline in iPhone unit shipments between the first and second quarters of 2018 is similar to the decline during the same time frame last year. New iPhone models coming this year could complete Apple’s hardware design update, with all new models featuring notch-type displays.

Now a publicly traded company, Xiaomi’s growth continued in the second quarter, reaching 33.7 million units. The company’s smartphone unit shipments grew 45.6 percent year over year, leading all major brands. Oppo and Vivo saw their smartphone year-over-year shipment growth stall to 4.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Oppo shipped 31.9 million units in the second quarter of 2018, increasing from 30.5 million units in the second quarter of 2017 and from 25.9 million units in the first quarter of 2018. Vivo shipped 28.6 million units in the second quarter of 2018, up from 23.8 million in the second quarter of last year.

Combined shipment volume of four Chinese manufacturers — Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi — reached 145.4 million units, which is bigger than the 114-million-unit combined shipment volume of market leaders Apple and Samsung. The second quarter was also the first time these top four Chinese manufacturers shipped more smartphones than the two leading companies.

LG smartphone unit shipments declined by double-digits in the second quarter of 2018, falling to 11.2 million units. The company has been trying to reinvigorate its smartphone business for some time, and it has shifted its device release cycle in an effort to optimize flagship launches. Its latest flagship model, the G7 ThinQ, was launched in early May 2018, but it was not immediately available, which limited its impact on the company’s performance in the second quarter.

Motorola unit shipments grew 41.5 percent year over year, reaching 10 million units. The company continues to do well in Latin America and other markets, where its mid-range and low-priced devices fit into customer buying patterns. The company’s flagship devices, the Moto Z range, have not been able to gain traction, even though they feature a unique hardware design and growing ecosystem of attachable modules.

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