Huawei was the leading Chinese original equipment manufacturer (OEM) by shipments in 2016, according to market research firm Canalys. The Shenzhen-based tech giant shipped 76.2 million devices over the course of last year and thus made the biggest contribution to the Chinese record-breaking 2016 shipments which amounted to 476.5 million units. Huawei was followed by OPPO as its Dongguan-based rival managed to ship 73.2 million devices in 2016. Vivo is now the third largest Chinese smartphone vendor by shipments as the company shipped 63.2 million units during the same period. Overall, the Chinese smartphone market grew immensely over the course of 2016 and recorded an 11.4-percent year-over-year growth. For reference, the same market grew by only 1.9 percent in 2015.
This remarkable achievement can at least partially be attributed to the final quarter of 2016 during which Chinese OEMs shipped 131.6 million devices, meaning Q4 2016 is the most successful single quarter in the history of the phone industry in the Far Eastern country. Chinese Q4 2016 device shipments amounted to almost one-third of all worldwide shipments during the same period. Looking at the broader picture, Canalys believes that Chinese shipments were driven by Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo's investments into new products as the competition between the three OEMs intensified and they pushed each other to commit more and more resources to promoting their offerings. Another noteworthy trend in the Chinese smartphone industry that was observable over the course of 2016 was the increased focus phone manufacturers started placing on their flagship products. In comparison to previous years, smartphone vendors in China are now manufacturing much more high-end devices relative to their total shipments.
Xiaomi and Apple were the fourth and fifth biggest smartphone vendors in China by shipments over the course of last year. However, unlike the top three, both Xiaomi and Apple's shipment numbers decreased in comparison to 2015. Xiaomi managed to ship 51.4 million devices last year, down 21 percent compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, Apple shipped approximately 43.8 million units in 2016, which is an 18.2-percent year-on-year decrease. Apple's declining performance in China directly affected the company's global business as the Cupertino-based tech giant recorded a 7-percent decrease in worldwide shipments in 2016. Apple is in for another rough year in China while it remains to be seen how Xiaomi will adjust to new market conditions, industry analysts believe.