In 2016, the demand for smartphones in the most populous country in the world rose yet again. During the fourth quarter of 2016, smartphone shipments rose by 12% annually and 9% over the previous quarter, which led to record volumes of smartphones shipped. Counterpoint Research released its Market Monitor for last year and according to it, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo were still leading players in the Chinese smartphone market. Research Director of Counterpoint, James Yan noted that manufacturers released smartphones with upgraded specs which helped to drive demand in the country. Also, the 11:11 sale held by e-commerce companies further drove the growth during the fourth quarter.
Five manufacturers registered healthy growth during 2016, including OPPO, Huawei, Vivo, Meizu and Gionee. These five manufacturers captured a huge chunk of the market, coming in at 58%. Meanwhile, other brands saw a decline in smartphone shipments, including Xiaomi, which saw explosive growth in previous years. Other brands which saw a decline in growth were Samsung, ZTE, Coolpad, Apple and Lenovo. However, Huawei grabbed the top spot in 2016 in terms of sales, mainly due to its inexpensive Honor smartphones, though its flagship smartphone, the Huawei P9 also saw healthy sales. Coming in behind were OPPO and Vivo, both of which were the fastest growing brands in China. OPPO even managed to beat Huawei in the fourth quarter of 2016, but only managed to obtain second place for the full year. Vivo took the third spot and Xiaomi came in fourth, with the demand for its smartphone having declined by 22% over the year.
According to Research Director, Neil Shah, more than 500 smartphone models were being sold in China during 2016. However, only 20 of those models contributed a third of the total market share throughout the year. The best selling smartphone happened to be the OPPO R9 which captured a market share of 4 percent, and managed to beat Apple, which was previously dominating the rankings for the past 5 years. This was followed by Apple's iPhone 6s, the Huawei Honor Joy 5s, OPPO A33 and the Redmi Note 3, which were in second, third, fourth and fifth place respectively. OPPO had five models in the top 20 rankings, while Apple and Xiaomi had four each.