Global Smartphone Shipments Q3 2018: Huawei, Xiaomi Shine Amid Decline [REPORT]

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Neeraj M
I am a full-time Industry Analyst, covering mobile industry, writing about the giants and their growth performances, chasing the statistics like my dreams, and digging deep into the industry till I get a gold mine. 'Earned' my Masters in BioTech quite recently and giving wings to my thoughts without drinking RedBull.

The number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to hit 3 billion mark by the end of 2018, which depicts that 39% of the global population will be owning a smartphone. It portrays a big window of opportunity for all smartphone manufacturers to strengthen their presence by penetrating the global market more deeply. Surprisingly, the global smartphone shipments have been declining with each passing quarter.

In Q3 2018, a total of 355.2 million units of smartphones were shipped worldwide, resulting in a significant 6.0% YoY decline. This is the fourth consecutive quarter when the global smartphone market has witnessed a YoY decline, according to IDC.

So what are the major factors behind the fall of smartphone shipments?


Global Smartphone Shipments Q3 2018: Samsung Disappoints!

Samsung once again emerged as the top smartphone manufacturer in the world. However, the company’s share has been flat for the last few quarters. In Q3 2018, Samsung shipped 72.2 million units of smartphones, resulting in a huge 13.4% YoY decline. Surprisingly, this is the fourth consecutive quarter when Samsung witnessed a YoY decline in its smartphone shipments, globally!

Even if we compare to the previous quarter, when Samsung had shipped 71.5 million smartphones, it is a negligible 0.98% growth.


Despite holding a sizable share of the premium segment, the Korean electronics giant is losing grounds at the entry and mid-price segments. Especially in growing markets like India and Indonesia, where Samsung enjoyed its dominant position for many years, the rise of Xiaomi, Oppo And Vivo has halted the growth of Samsung completely.

Samsung is committed to winning back all his lost glory and ground, and it’s clearly visible from the refresh strategy the company has apparently employed. Samsung’s decision to revamp the product portfolio by bringing new features and awareness to non-flagship models could possibly turn the table. Armed with the new A-Series Smartphones Samsung’s is all set to challenge its competitors in the mid-tier across numerous markets.

So far, this is the worst performing year for Samsung in terms of smartphone sales. Despite its flagship devices, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, and Galaxy Note 9, making waves in many markets the company’s overall smartphone sales have tanked.


Huawei has continued its superb performance which has helped it to maintain its second spot in the global smartphone market, with a significant 14.6% share. The company shipped 52 million units of smartphones in Q3 2018, resulting in a whopping 32.9% YoY growth. Though it is slightly below from the previous quarter where Huawei shipped 54.2 million units, growing 40.9% YoY growth.

Huawei has the almost negligible presence in the US though, but its flagship models are wildly popular in the rest of the world, particularly Asia and Europe. Its flagship devices, such as P20, P20 ProHonor 8, giving Apple and Samsung a run for their money.

Apple iPhone Sales In Q3 2018: Slow Growth!

The recently launched iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max helped Apple to push its third-quarter shipments to 46.9 million units. Interestingly, it is slightly 0.5% YoY and 13.6% QoQ increase, but below than market expectations. The declining growth has forced the world’s most valuable company to stop revealing the iPhone sales figures from the beginning of fiscal 2019.

The US has always been the biggest market for Apple. A majority of iPhone sales and revenue come from the US. But the high dependency on the homegrown market – the highly saturated smartphone market – don’t excite the investors and wall street as much as before.

Xiaomi Continues Its Global Expansion

Xiaomi shipped 34.3 million units of smartphones in Q3 2018, with a remarkable 21.2% YoY growth. Led by India, China and Indonesia, the growth of Xiaomi has surprised many. As the company has started making headway into European markets like Spain, we could expect Xiaomi growing by leaps and bounds in the quarters to come.

The unprecedented success of Redmi 5A, Redmi 5 Plus, and Redmi Note 5 has been helping the company to eat into competitors’ market. With the newer Redmi 6/A/Pro successors ramping up quickly, the market share of Xiaomi is bound to swell.

The meteoric rise of Xiaomi can also be understood by the exceptional sales performance globally. Xiaomi has achieved its ‘100-million annual target for smartphone shipments’ two months ahead of the plan.

The Chinese giant has leapfrogged Samsung to claim the numero-uno position in India smartphone market. In Q3 2018, Xiaomi sold 12 million units of smartphones, with a remarkable 31.5% YoY growth.

The most surprising is Oppo which is losing all the major markets. Oppo shipped 29.9 million units of smartphones in Q3 2018, a little higher than the previous quarter. Despite registering a decline of 2.1% YoY, it managed to secure a place among top 5 smartphone vendors in the world.

Like Samsung, Oppo is also facing fierce competition from Huawei and Xiaomi, apparently. However, the devices like Find X – world’s first smartphone with 10GB RAM – and R17 are raising the bar for Oppo.

All and all, the declining global smartphone shipment with each passing quarter will force top smartphone vendors to revisit their sales strategy. While some of the entry and mid-segment players have already set their eyes on the high-end to premium segment smartphone market, there are players who are still trying to capitalise on the low penetration of feature phones in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities of developing markets. It would be interesting to see how the global smartphone market would shape up considering US market is saturated and China is heading to saturation; all eyes would be on India – which is known for its price sensitivity and longer upgrade cycle.


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