A new smartphone market share report says that smartphone shipments in China fell 4.3 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year ago. Since 2011 China has been the world’s largest smartphone market and was in many ways a green field sector. Most people buying smartphones in China have, until now, been first time buyers. But now it seems that the market has reached saturation and from here in China is now an upgrade market.

The new numbers come from research conducted by International Data Corp (IDC). Other, rival surveys, suggest that China’s smartphone market continued to grow during the quarter, but at much slower levels than previously. Either way, it is clear that this is a turning point.


According to Apple’s financial results for Q1 2015, the Cupertino company sells more iPhone in China than it does in the USA. Now, the new data shows that Apple has pushed Xiaomi off the top spot to become China’s largest smartphone maker by market share. It was IDC that ranked Xiaomi as the top smartphone OEM in China for Q4 2014, with the company taking a 13.7% market share. At the time IDC reckoned that Apple had a 12.3% market share.

IDC also reports that Samsung has fallen to fourth place in China for Q1, a big drop from its #1 position of a year ago.
Xiaomi has traditionally focused on the low-end of the Chinese smartphone market, however recently it has also been targeting the top end. Just last week the company launched its $480 Mi Note Pro. The new device  features a 5.7 inch Quad HD LCD display, a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a 13MP camera, a 3090 mAh battery, and LTE category 9. The company has also been working to expand beyond China.

xiaomi mi note pro

Over the past year, Xiaomi made the jump to its first markets outside China, and is now operating in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India. It entered the Indian market in July 2014, and it has managed to become an established player in that cutthroat market, having sold a million devices in the first six months.

Now the $46 billion company is looking towards another large, dynamic market: Brazil. Talking to the press in Taiwan, Hugo Barra (a native of Brazil) said Xiaomi will begin selling its affordable devices in Brazil within three months.

IDC also reports that Samsung has fallen to fourth place in China for Q1, a big drop from its #1 position of a year ago. However Samsung is still optimistic about its sales in China. “While there are signs that the explosive growth of smartphones in China will slow this year, the vast majority of China’s 885 million mobile users are using low-end and mid-range smartphones,” Samsung said in a statement. “This leaves plenty of room for upgrades to high-end phones as China’s market matures.”