Local Chinese Smartphone Brands Muscle out Samsung and Apple

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The smartphone market has grown dramatically in the past decade. It grew by about 3.1% in 2016. This may be small compared to the 10.5% in 2015 and 27.8% in 2014, still, this represents shipment of over 1.48 billion units. This number is predicted to grow to 1.84 billion by 2020 (source: IDC). For a long time, Samsung and Apple have been the leading forces driving this growth. However, some other smartphone makers are strongly rising in sales and brand fame. They are releasing new and innovative products in the markets, good enough to compete with the best. Recently, some of them -Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo- have stood out with increased sales and now pose a serious threat to the dominance of Samsung and Apple.

Most of the data in this post are gotten from market research and analysis firm IDC and the online statistics and market research portal Statista.


Huawei is a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and service company founded in 1987. In the telecom equipment and service sector, the company has grown to be number one after overtaking Ericsson in 2012.

Huawei has grown to become a major player in the smartphone market as well. It holds an estimated 10.0% of the global smartphone market and shipped about 139.3 million units in 2016. This represents a 30.2% increase from 2015 (source: Huawei). The Chinese market remains a very important battleground for Huawei. The company sold an estimated 76.6 million smartphones in China last year giving it a 16.4% market share  (source: IDC). Though it did not occupy the top spot, it left Apple and Samsung far behind. Out of China, Huawei also has a strong presence in the Americas, European, and African markets.

With its 10.0% global smartphone market share,  Huawei is the third-largest smartphone maker in the world and aims to occupy the top spot by 2021.

Apart from a growing brand recognition across the world, Huawei also builds on innovation as testifies its new Huawei P10 and its dual camera.


OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chinese company founded in 2004. The company has been able to design, manufacture and promote its own products in more than 21 markets worldwide. It sums up its brand philosophy in the phrase “The art of technology”.

Oppo entered the mobile phone market in 2008 and launched its first smartphone in 2011. Last year, Oppo surpassed Huawei and Vivo in the Chines smartphone market. This is especially important as China represents about a third of worldwide smartphone shipments. A new report from IDC shows that Oppo’s smartphone shipments attained 78.4 million units last year representing a 16.8% market share in China. This placed Oppo in front of Huawei and Vivo living Samsung and Apple far behind.

Oppo’s aggressive marketing strategies has led it to great success in other Asian markets. With its strongest competitors in China under control and a global market share of 7.3% as of 4Q’16 (Source: Statista), Oppo stands as the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world.

3. Vivo Smartphone

Vivo is a Chinese multinational technology company founded in 2009. The company designs, manufacture and markets smartphones, smartphone accessories and consumer electronics in general.

In 2012, Vivo released the X1 which at the time was the world’s thinnest smartphone and the first to incorporate a Hi-Fi chip. Like for Huawei and Oppo, China is a major battleground for Vivo. The company has been able, not only to keep up but to outweigh giants like Apple and Samsung in this market. Vivo occupied 14.8% of Chinese market representing shipment of about 69.2 million units in 2016 (source: IDC). This is more than Samsung, Apple or Xiaomi. On the international scene, Vivo is expanding and establishing in more countries and is building its brand recognition.

Vivo had a global smartphone market share of about 5.8% as of 4Q’16 (Source: Statista). This is enough to secure Vivo the fifth position in the global smartphone market.

While maintaining a strong presence in China, Vivo has significant growth in India and Myanmar. Early this year, Vivo hit the market with its dual front camera smartphone Vivo V5 Plus.

It is no surprise that all the above manufacturers are Chinese, they have been able to muscle out Samsung and Apple in the biggest smartphone market in the world. In 2017, the competition between Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo will grow, with the introduction of new products and market fluctuations. Canalys Research Analyst Jessie Ding predicts “In 2017, competition between Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo will become much more intense, while their increasing scale and bargaining power within the industry will have a larger impact on device strategies of operators and open channel partners”. All three also have their eyes on Apple and Samsung in the global market. Huawei, in particular, has already made predictions to occupy the top spot by 2021.

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