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China’s total 2022 smartphone shipments at lowest level for 10 years

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China's smartphone sales fell 13 per cent year-on-year in 2022, the largest plunge for the sector in a decade as consumers spent cautiously, according to market research firm IDC.

The total number of devices shipped in 2022 was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2021. This means that the total sales volume for 2022 was the lowest since 2013 and the first time since that year that annual sales have dropped below 300 million units, IDC said in a report.

Android handset maker Vivo was the top-selling brand over the year, with a market share of 18.6 per cent. However, its total shipments still fell by 25.1 per cent year-on-year.

Honor ranked as the second best-selling brand, with shipments growing more than 34 per cent, albeit from a low base. Apple was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022, tied with Oppo. Apple's overall sales fell 4.4 per cent year-on-year, broadly outperforming the market downturn.

Despite being the top-selling brand in the three-month period of Q4 2022, year-on-year sales for Apple's iPhones were still down, as supply chain issues caused by worker unrest at manufacturer Foxconn's plant in the city of Zhengzhou compounded worse than expected demand, researchers wrote.

The strict Covid-19 clampdown in China was severely increased in the Spring of 2022 across several major cities and this weighed heavily on the national economy, which slumped to one of its worst levels in nearly half a century last year.

The government almost completely abandoned its Covid restrictions later in the year in an effort to revive the country's fortunes. The almost capricious nature of the policy reversal - with Covid cases rising fast in the region - has triggered an uncharacteristically voluble outcry and protests from frustrated Chinese citizens.

The plunge in smartphone sales in China reflected the sector's performance globally. In 2022, global smartphone shipments reached 1.2 billion, the lowest level since 2013 and a year-on-year fall of more than 11 per cent, according to IDC.

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