Apple’s iPhone was the best-selling smartphone series in China for the first time last year. The iPhone ranked first in the country regarding shipments in the fourth quarter and throughout 2023.
The American tech group achieved a surprisingly strong result in China, given the fierce local competition and the ban on Chinese government employees from bringing iPhones to work.
Analysts, including those from the American investment bank Jefferies, warned of a significant decline in iPhone sales in China. Sales of the new iPhone 15 got off to a slow start last year. Apple was also affected by the arrival of the new smartphone Mate 60 from the Chinese Huawei. Apple has managed to gain market share in China in recent years because Huawei could no longer use the latest chips due to American sanctions.
However, with the arrival of the Mate 60, the Chinese group has regained market share in its home market. According to IDC, Apple limited the damage with timely discounts and promotions. Apple’s success in the fourth quarter was further driven by iPhone sales declining less than competitors’ sales. For example, with a sales decline of 2.2 percent in 2023, Apple fared better than Chinese rivals such as Honor Device and Vivo, which saw sales decline by more than 10 percent.
Total smartphone shipments in China fell 5 percent last year to the lowest level in a decade. This is mainly due to the ailing recovery of the Chinese economy and low consumer confidence. Apple was also the world’s largest smartphone seller in 2023, as iPhone sales fell less than sales of major South Korean competitor Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.