Smartphone shipments in China fell 20.4% in 2020: government data

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Domestic smartphone shipments in China in 2020 fell 20.4% from the previous year, government data released on Monday showed,

as the number of handsets delivered to consumers dropped to 296 million from 372 million in 2019.

The figures China Academy of Information and Communications (CAICT), a state-backed think tank, reflected both the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the supply chain and demand, and the ongoing trend for consumers keep their phones for longer before upgrading to a new model.

In 2019, shipments of smartphones had declined 4% from the previous year, according to CAICT data.

Handset vendors had entered 2020 hoping the year would bring renewed sales as consumers purchased new phones compatible with China’s rapidly-expanding 5G networks.

But, in the first half of the year, domestic brands Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi Corp each saw steep shipment declines while Huawei, the leading Chinese brand at the high-end, continued to grow market share.

In the latter half, Huawei sales slowed as trade restrictions imposed by Washington on the company took effect, crimping its supply of critical components. Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi have ramped up production in hopes of capturing that share.

Apple, released its first 5G-enabled handsets in China last autumn. Analysts remain bullish on the devices’ reception as loyal iPhone owners who once delayed upgrading now buy new phones.

Phone makers shipped a total of 25.2 million smartphones to consumers in China in the month of December, marking a 12.8% year-on-year decline, according to CAICT.

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)