china apple

Customers shop for iPhones at an Apple store in Beijing. (Photo by Jade Gao / AFP)

Apple retakes top spot in China smartphone market

  • Apple is now the best selling smartphone in China
  • The Apple iPhone 13 has seen a surge in sales since its release in September 2020
  • Vivo and Oppo are not far behind, with Huawei trailing

Despite the ongoing trade and tech standoff between the US and China, American products and gadgets are still making progressive sales in China. Recent reports showed that Tesla remains a market leader in China’s electric vehicle (EV) market despite competition from Chinese EV makers as well.

Now, Apple has reclaimed its position as the top smartphone seller in China after six years. The American smartphone clocked a record market share in the final quarter of 2021, as US sanctions hit rival Huawei, according to researchers.

A surge in sales saw the iPhone maker account for 23% of the highly competitive market in October-December, industry analysis firm Counterpoint said in a report.

The report stated that Apple rose to the first place in China right after the iPhone 13 was released and has been in leading position for the majority of the period, seldom giving way to Chinese competitor Vivo.

Vivo and another local brand Oppo were not far behind, driven in part by their “strong offline penetration”, Counterpoint said. But smartphone sales in the country also dropped nine percent on-year in the period.

Commenting on the outlook, Counterpoint Research Director Tom Kang said, “Apple’s only true competitor in China till now was Huawei and it is now facing serious production issues due to the US sanctions. Apple is likely to continue its high performance in China, until other competitors catch up in both brand and quality.”

apple china

iPhone 13 Sales Ranking Post Launch. (Source – Counterpoint Research)

Meanwhile Counterpoint research analyst Mengmeng Zhang explained that Apple’s stellar performance was driven by a mix of its pricing strategy and gain from Huawei’s premium base.

“Apple rose to first place in China right after the iPhone 13 was released in September,” she added, noting it had a lower starting price than its rivals.

The shift comes as Chinese telecom giant Huawei was caught in the crosshairs of Beijing and Washington’s trade and technology standoff.

The United States has barred Huawei from buying crucial components such as microchips and forced it to create its own operating system by cutting it off from using Google’s Android operating system.

In December, Huawei said its annual revenue fell nearly a third from the previous year to 634 billion yuan (US$ 99.5 billion). China is a key market for Apple, with sales in the Greater China region, including the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, surging 70% in the year to September.

With additional reporting from © Agence France-Presse