Apple iPhone Sales Plunge in China as Huawei Surges Ahead in Q1 2024

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Key Takeaways

  • iPhone sales in China crashed by just under 20% over the early stages of 2024.
  • Analysis shows demand for Huawei phones has propelled as Chinese domestic market enjoys a boom.
  • Apple is the third biggest phone maker in China, and Huawei is the fourth.

Apple’s iPhone sales in China declined sharply in the first quarter of 2024, while Huawei enjoyed soaring success in the same period. 

A new report from Hong Kong-based market analysis company Counterpoint Research indicates that demand for iPhones fell by 19.1% in the first three months, a significant setback for the American tech giant.

Conversely, according to Counterpoint, Huawei was one of the beneficiaries of a resurgent domestic market as its sales spiked by a whopping 69.7%. A catalyst for the stunning performance over the first quarter was said to be the launch of the Mate 60 smartphone, with an advanced chip supporting 5G connectivity.

This update is a significant boost for Huawei, which has bounced back since US sanctions in 2020 aimed at stunting the growth of such Chinese firms. Specifically, the US government requires foreign manufacturers to obtain a license to use American equipment before selling chips to Huawei.

As a direct consequence, Taiwan’s TSMC was caught in the crossfire as it supplied over 90% of the Shanghai-based company’s semiconductors. The escalation threatened the viability of Huawei’s smartphone operation. Still, the firm has weathered the storm to stabilize and return to growth.

Huawei is the fourth-largest smartphone maker in China, putting pressure on third-placed Apple. Its shares dipped slightly in US premarket trading on April 23.

Overall, phone sales increased by 1.5% in China year-on-year for the first quarter, following gains in Q4 2023.

Forecasts indicate a steady period of growth ahead, in the single digits, for the upcoming year, with other Chinese smartphone brands such as Xiaomi and Oppo also striving for gains.

Both companies now utilize Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processors in their latest generation phones, and AI features are set to boost further demand for new devices.