Some combination of Samsung and Apple lead many major smartphone markets, but in the largest, China, local players dominate. Recent data from Counterpoint Research has reinforced that: As this chart from Statista shows, Chinese firms Huawei and BBK Electronics (through its Oppo and Vivo brands) shipped the most phones this past quarter, a good ways ahead of Apple and Samsung.
That said, it’s important to remember that market share isn’t the same as profits. While Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo are way up in China, much of their growth is coming from lower-cost, lower-margin devices. There is a lot of room to sell such devices in China — and the three are making it a point to sell higher-end models — but, as Xiaomi can attest, it’s a fickle market.
And though Apple’s declining growth in the region is significant, Counterpoint says iPhones still rule the premium market, with a whopping 80% share among phones that cost more than 4000 RMB (about $580). Apple lives solely in the high-end — apart from the iPhone SE, which is generally weaker than Huawei and BBK’s phones at the same price — so its slowdown seems to be because that market is saturated. (For now.)
Samsung appears to have been hit harder in the region. While its premium Galaxy S series does alright for itself, its smartphone business is still about quantity more than quality. Its mid-range devices are being chewed up by the local competition, which led to its big shrink in sales.