Smartphone shipments were down year over year during the first quarter for 2019, highlighting continued challenges in the smartphone market, according to preliminary data from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. But, Huawei has managed to see growth at time when the other top phone makers have been in decline.
A total of 310.8 million smartphone units were shipped in Q1, down 6.6% from Q1 2018. IDC said Q1 2019 was the sixth consecutive quarter to see smartphone shipments decline. In 2018, shipments dropped 4.1% compared to 2017.
“The less than stellar first quarter in the United States can be attributed to the continued slowdown we are witnessing at the high end of the market,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a news release. Scarsella pointed to rising prices as a contributing factor to the decline.
“Consumers continue to hold on to their phones longer than before as newer higher priced models offer little incentive to shell out top dollar to upgrade,” he said, adding that consumers may also be holding out for the first wave of 5G-capable smartphones to hit the market later this year.
The declines were present nearly across the board for the top phonemakers, with the exception of Huawei. Samsung shipped 71.9 million phones, a volume drop of 8.1% in Q1. Apple shipped just 36.4 million phones, representing a 30.2% decline from last year, IDC said. Xiaomi, meanwhile, shipped 25.0 million phones in Q1, a 10.2% dip compared to last year.
Huawei, however, was the only smartphone vendor to see growth in Q1. The company shipped 59.1 million phones during the quarter, overtaking Apple as the No. 2 phone maker worldwide. Its shipments grew 50.3% during the quarter.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Huawei is laser-focused on growing its stature in the world of mobile devices, with smartphones being its lead horse,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “The overall smartphone market continues to be challenged in almost all areas, yet Huawei was able to grow shipments by 50%, not only signifying a clear number two in terms of market share but also closing the gap on the market leader Samsung. This new ranking of Samsung, Huawei, and Apple is very likely what we'll see when 2019 is all said and done.”