China’s 2022 Smartphone Sales Plunge to the Lowest Level in a Decade

The cautious spending habits of consumers are the main reason for the decline in smartphone sales- according to the latest market research

A girl using a smartphone
A girl using a smartphone


China’s smartphone sales have hit a record drop in 2022, declining 13% Year-on-Year to its lowest level in a decade, data from a third-party research firm IDC confirmed.


The total number of devices shipped has decreased from 329 million in 2021 to 286 million in 2022. This is its lowest sales volume since 2013, and the first time since annual sales fell below 300 million units, IDC said in its report.


Tight COVID-19 restrictions weighed heavily on China’s economy last year. This is thought to be the main reason behind the drop in consumer spending in the Chinese smartphone market. Beijing, however, began easing restrictions in December, boosting consumption. 


“Household savings are at all-time highs as consumer spending becomes more conservative as a result of harsher pandemic measures,” said Lucas Zhong, who tracks China’s smartphone sector at research firm Canalys. Honor, a fork of Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL), ranked as the second best brand, with sales growth of more than 34%, albeit from a lower base.


Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was the best-selling mobile phone brand in 2022, up from the previous year’s fourth place and third best-selling brand- Oppo.


According to IDC, Apple’s overall revenue fell by 4.4% year-on-year, while all competitors except Honor posted double-digit revenue declines for them. The cautious spending habits of consumers are the main reason for the decline, according to IDC.


The report mentioned Android smartphone maker Vivo was the best-selling brand in 2022, with a market share of 18.6%. However, total shipments decreased by 25.1% year-on-year. Overall, the slump in smartphone sales in China reflects the global performance of the sector. According to IDC, global smartphone shipments in 2022 are estimated to reach 1.2 billion units (calculation is based on the provisional data), the lowest since 2013 and a drop of more than 11% year-on-year.


According to another report by Canalys released on Monday, Apple sold 16.4 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2022, down 24% year-over-year. This compares to a 37.3% drop in shipments for Xiaomi and Honors 14.1 in the same quarter.


This is the first year-over-year decline in Apple shipments in China since early 2020 when the first wave of COVID-19 swept the country. According to Canalys, the decline was caused by previous releases of the latest iPhone series and worker unrest at the factory of major manufacturer Foxconn in Zhengzhou city, which affected its supply chain.


Nevertheless, Apple remained the best-selling phone maker in China during the fourth quarter of AY 2022, achieving a record market share, Canalys added.


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