Government figures showed China’s smartphone shipments in March continued to be significantly lower than figures for early 2019, but highlighted the easing of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) were beginning to have an effect, with the rate of decline lower than February.

Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) showed shipments in March fell 21.9 per cent year-on-year to 21 million units, far less than the 54.7 per cent drop recorded in February.

Over the first three months of the year, shipments slipped 34.7 per cent to 47.7 million units, CAICT’s numbers revealed. The number of new smartphones released fell 24.5 per cent to 74 models.

The data showed multinational brands accounted for 13.2 per cent of total shipments last month, with Apple estimated to have shipped about 2.5 million iPhones, down 20 per cent, after falling 61 per cent in February.

Apple announced in mid-March it reopened all 42 stores in China after closing them in early February.

On a recent earnings call, Xiaomi president Wang Xiang said it was also getting back to normality, with production at between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of its regular capacity by 31 March, after hits to manufacturing and demand in February caused by lockdowns.