European smartphone sales declined by approximately 6.3-percent over the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago, data collected by insights firm Canalys reveals. Some 46 million devices ended up being shipped during the three-month period, with Samsung taking the hardest hit out of the top five phone vendors on the Old Continent, having witnessed its business shrink by 15.4-percent. The South Korean tech giant is still the undisputed leader in Europe, having shipped 15.2 million handsets in Q1, five million more than the second-placed Apple.
Backed by the strong performance of the P20 lineup that it already touted in recent weeks, Huawei ended the quarter as the third most successful smartphone vendor in Europe, with Canalys estimating its mobile product shipments hit 7.4 million, being five million units higher than the figure attached to Xiaomi's recently established business in the region. HMD was the fifth largest manufacturer by shipments over the observed period, sending around 1.6 million Nokia devices to retailers in Europe. While Xiaomi was the fastest-growing company in the mobile sector, its overall business still has a relatively small footprint and is behind the top three by millions of units. The overall industry decline recorded on the continent is largely attributed to smartphone upgrade fatigue among consumers in Western Europe where shipments dropped by nearly 14-percent annually, with the worst-performing market being the United Kingdom with a decline of almost 30-percent.
Central and Eastern Europe haven't stopped growing, with their phone shipments increasing by 12.3-percent year-on-year, but that rise wasn't nearly significant enough to offset the trend in western countries which still boast twice as much quarterly shipments, based on the latest figures. As is the case with other markets around the world, 18:9 displays, multi-camera setups, and handsets with over 4GB of RAM all became more popular over the last twelve months, with the research firm predicting that trend to continue over the coming quarters. The overall decline in shipments mimicks global figures and while a return to growth is expected in the near future, the onus is on the mobile industry to deliver innovations worth paying for, i.e. upgrading to, many analysts believe. According to recent predictions, those innovations will soon come in the form of foldable smartphones and 3D cameras capable of sensing depth like the one on Apple's iPhone X.