Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 2.7% in the first quarter of 2019, totaling 373 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. Despite its absence from the U.S., Huawei maintained its ranking as the No. 2 smartphone vendor worldwide and continued to reduce the gap with Samsung, according to the research group.
“Demand for premium smartphones remained lower than for basic smartphones*, which affected brands such as Samsung and Apple that have significant stakes in high-end smartphones,” says Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “In addition, demand for utility smartphones* declined as the rate of upgrading from feature phones to smartphones has slowed, given that 4G feature phones give users great advantages at a lower cost.”
Slowing innovation in flagship smartphones and rising prices continued to extend replacement cycles, he adds. The two countries that sell the most smartphones, namely the U.S. and China, saw sales decline by 15.8% and 3.2%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2019.
In the first quarter of 2019, Samsung retained the top spot in worldwide smartphone sales achieving 19.2% market share. Huawei achieved the highest year-over-year growth among the world’s top five, growing 44.5% and smartphone sales totaling 58.4 million units.
Sales of Apple iPhones totaled 44.6 million units in the first quarter of 2019, a decline of 17.6% year-over-year.
“The price cut for iPhones across markets helped drive up demand but wasn’t enough to restore growth in the first quarter,” says Gupta. “Apple is facing longer replacement cycles as users struggle to see enough value benefits to justify replacing existing iPhones.”