China Insights

Huawei, Xiaomi and Apple grow dominance in China

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Mobile 14.11.2018 / 19:17

Huawei Mate 20 2 col

Xiaomi Mi 8 was the most popular handset model in these three months. The next three models on the best-seller ranking were all from iPhone.

The three leading smartphone brands – Huawei (excluding Honor), Xiaomi and iPhone – kept winning more shares in urban China market as all grew their shares over a year ago, according to the Q3 data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Xiaomi Mi 8 was the most popular handset model in these three months. The next three models on the best-seller ranking were all from iPhone, including the runner-up iPhone X.

As more brands followed iPhone’s suit to launch premium products, the average selling price of smartphones in Q3 increased across the industry. The proportion of sales from premium models increased by 7 percentage points from a year ago.

Huawei continued to win consumers from other brands. Huawei ranked No.1 in terms of net new consumers won (=total new consumers won – total new consumers lost) in Q3, followed by iPhone.

“Among all the users leaving Huawei and Honor, the proportion of people joining iPhone camp decreased from a year ago, while the proportions of OPPO/VIVO-turned-iPhone user increased,” said Liang Yaguang, Consumer Insight Director of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech China. “There are lot in common in ex-OPPO/VIVO users, such as they’re relatively young, most of them live in tier-1 and -2 cities, not happy with chips and speed, pay attention to other people’s recommendations, etc. It’s more important, and to some extent easier, for smartphone brands to keep existing consumers compared to win over consumers. They need to invest more in raising loyalty.”

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech carries out monthly panel surveys among Chinese urban mobile phone users to monitor the market share changes of various brands. In China, the panel size is 27,000. Panellists were recruited from tier-1 to 5 cities and each year more than 320,000 surveys were conducted. The nature of the research methodology means it can cover the influence of smartphones sold in other countries ended up in China and avoid the confusion caused by unsold phones stocked at warehouses of distributors.

There are good news for Xiaomi: its long-term investment in building a smart hardware ecosystem started to pay off: the loyalty of Xiaomi users rose significantly and now ranked No.1 in Android brands.

A worrying sign across the board is emerging: the average Net Promoter Score (NPS) among Chinese consumers dropped in Q3. Among mainstream iPhone, Huawei (excluding Honor), VIVO and OPPO are above the average. The NPS for Samsung eclipsed that of Xiaomi for the first time.

As major brands keep expanding their user bases, the user profiles began to look more like each other. OPPO and VIVO both had more male users while Huawei (excluding Honor) and Xiaomi had obtained more female consumers.

In the United States, Android lost ground to iOS in Q3. Dominic Sunnebo, Global Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, commented: “Healthy early sales of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models in the States are good news for Apple. Combined with the continued strong momentum we’re seeing among its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, these sales have contributed to a 5.0 percentage point increase in OS share for Apple in the US – the biggest gain seen worldwide this quarter. iPhone 8 was the top selling model in the US over the quarter, with a 9.4% share of the handset market, and with iPhone XR launching outside this period we’d expect Apple share to tick up further towards the end of the year.”

But in the five main European markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy), Android made significant gains against iOS. The Samsung Galaxy S9 was the top selling model across the big five markets in September. Meanwhile, the newly released Galaxy Note 9 has made it into the top 10 most popular models for the month. In further evidence of the new market dynamics in Europe, both Huawei (P20 Lite) and Xiaomi (Mi Note 5) made it to the top five handset ranking for the first time.

Dominic said: “The picture is different in Europe, with competition remaining fierce among Android handset brands. European consumers are holding on to their handsets more than two months longer than they were in 2016 meaning the introduction of innovative new models is more important than ever. Huawei is one manufacturer making significant steps in the right direction – six months on from the launch of its P20 series it has consolidated its position as the second best-selling brand in Europe behind Samsung.  Meanwhile, last month’s launch of its Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are further evidence of the investment Huawei is making in research and development meaning its strong performance is likely to continue into next year.

Xiaomi continued to expand rapidly in Spain and, more recently, in Italy and France.  “The focused push that the two Chinese giants are making into Europe is causing pain for their rivals across the board,” Dominic said. “However, it is Sony, LG and Wiko who are being disproportionally impacted as a result of their historic over-reliance on the ultra-competitive low and mid-price tiers.”

In Japan, Apple continued to lead handset sales despite pressure from Sharp and Huawei, which have made strong gains, increasing their share of sales by 6 percentage points and 3.2 percentage points respectively. Sharp’s flagship Aquos R2 and Huawei’s P20 Lite were among the top five best-sellers for the third quarter.


Source: Kantar Worldpanel

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