Smartphone Producers Show Varied Performance in Q1 and First-tier Cities are Major Battlefields for High-end Handsets

Smartphone Producers Show Varied Performance in Q1 and First-tier Cities are Major Battlefields for High-end Handsets

According to latest findings from Nielsen Device Share (NDS), market performance in China of major smartphone companies varied in the first quarter of 2016, with some seeing jumps in market share and some experiencing decline.

The survey found that by end of March, market share of smartphones priced over 2,000 yuan jumped to 48.2%, 2.44 percent higher than fourth quarter of 2014. Apple’s share rose by 0.94%. Among all Android phone brands, OPPO’s share soared by 1.27%, followed by Vivo(0.87%), Huawei (0.48%), and Gionee (0.21%). However, some suffered from big market share decline. Samsung declined by 1.76% to settle at 9.5% percent of total market share. Xiaomi, Coolpad, and Lenovo all experienced decline. 

Upgrade trend becomes more apparent

According to the report, the overall market share of medium and high-end smart phones (priced above 2,000 yuan) has gone up by 2.5%, reaching 48.2% from 45.7%. On the contrary, market share of phones priced below 1,000 yuan have continued to decline, dropping nearly 1.8%.

In March 2016, many major smartphone manufacturers launched new medium and high-end products, resulting in large numbers of flagship smartphones entering the market. Unsurprisingly, those brands will bring another round of intense competition.

Nielsen data shows that the OPPO R9 successfully became the market leader in March’s share ranking, followed by Xiaomi’s MI5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge.

Apple’s popularity continues, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo further expand market share

In the first quarter of 2016, Apple’s popularity continued, increasing competition for other phone manufacturers. Samsung’s market share continues to shrink, however, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo have done remarkably well. Huawei surpassed Samsung and became the number three brand within China’s smart phone market. OPPO and Vivo continue to see strong growth, with market share in the first quarter nearly equaling that of Samsung.

First tier cities are a major battlefield for middle and high-end smartphone brands

The Nielsen report found that stylish and high quality smartphones are more appealing to consumers from first tier cities, leading to increasingly fierce competition within key cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Nielsen’s data revealed that Apple’s market share in first tier cities continues to outperform its share nationwide. In February, Huawei’s market share in first tier cities surpasses its national level for the first time, suggesting the initial success of a premiumization campaign.

On the other hand, for the first time since June 2015, Samsung experienced market share decline in first tier Chinese cities to a level below that of their national average. Like Samsung, OPPO’s market share in first tier cities continues to be lower than that of their national average, suggesting there is still opportunity to drive performance in China’s developed city markets.

For Huawei, market share in Shanghai haven’t surpass that of national average, which indicates its high-end process in Shanghai was as successful as that in other big Chinese cities. Considering Shanghai consumers can be demanding in terms of quality and performance, manufacturers looking to win in these markets will need to ensure their products and marketing are top-quality in order to attract increasingly sophisticated, big-city consumers.


Nielsen officially launched Nielsen Device Share (NDS) in November 2015, in China, in collaboration with TalkingData. Nielsen Device Share can track smart devices’ brand and model share in total market (devices in use) and new activate market (new active devices) to understand brand, model and configuration trends. Additionally, Nielsen Device Share is able to monitor the structure of total market, measure the performance of new models, provide APP using behavior and users’ profiles, analysis new activate market and brand potential energy, and also forecast sales volume of new models, which improve the market decision making of enterprise.

NDS is based on the big data panel including nearly 300 million smartphones and the scientific data calibration, which truly reflects the smartphone market to make sure the results accurate and representative, even though crosstabs, the sample is large enough.

NDS is updated on 10th each month, which allows speed and stability at the same time.