Almost 408m smartphones were sold to consumers worldwide, in the final three months of previous year, according to Gartner, a 5.6 per cent fall from the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first fall since the research firm began tracking the market in 2004.
While Huawei saw sales rise to 43.88 million smartphones in the fourth quarter against 40.80 million a year ago, Xiaomi saw sales nearly double to 28.18 million in the December quarter from 15.75 million in the same quarter a year ago.
Gartner says that the decline in sales is due to lack of low cost, quality smartphones and the users' preference for buying quality feature phones.
Samsung continues to be the market share leader despite a 3.6 percent decline with 74 million units shipped, compared to $76.8 million in Q4 2016. Research and advisory company Gartner started tracking the global smartphone market in 2004 (right around the release of the Palm Treo 650, for those old enough to remember that). The report also pointed out that users prefer to buy quality models and keep them for longer, bringing down that sales figures.
"Apple was in a different position this quarter than it was 12 months before", said Gupta. He said: "First, the later availability of the iPhone X led to slow upgrades to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as users waited to try the more-expensive model".
Some 407.84 million handsets found a new home in the quarter, equating to a 5.6 per cent slide or 24.29 million fewer phones sold than the prior year.
Moreover, Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to have achieved year-on-year unit growth, which was 7.6 percent and 79 percent, respectively, Gartner said in a report. Second, component shortages ansd manufacturing capacity constraints preceded a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X, which returned to normal by early December 2017.
Although, Apple's market share stabilized in Q4, iPhone sales fell 5 percent. With Huawei's new smartphone additions in the quarter, including Mate 10 Lite, Honor 6C Pro and Enjoy 7S, the vendor broadened the appeal of its smartphones. In 2017 as a whole, smartphone sales to end users totalled over 1.5 billion units - an increase of 2.7 per cent from 2016.
"Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging APAC and the USA", said Mr. Gupta.
A decade of growth now means most people have access to a smartphone or tablet device, but the latest research will be worrying for the telecoms industry, which has experienced falling sales in China, the world's biggest smartphone market.