While global smartphone growth is slowing, with shipments forecast to rise just 5.7 per cent this year, Chinese branded vendors are expected to expand shipments 15.6 per cent, according to TrendForce.
Chinese makers will continue to be the main driver of smartphone growth this year as demand rises in emerging markets, such as India and the ASEAN countries, said TrendForce analyst Avril Wu.
China’s smartphone vendors started to build up their inventories in mid-February after drawing down their high stocks, which rose when global demand slowed in Q4. TrendForce said it took about three months for global smartphone makers to reduce their inventory levels.
Lenovo, which has undergone a difficult restructuring period following its acquisition of Motorola, aims to significantly raise the profit of its smartphone business and is targeting annual shipment growth of at least 20 per cent.
Xiaomi, after missing an aggressive smartphone shipment target last year, is intensifying its efforts in India and other emerging markets to return to high growth (12.5 per cent).
Oppo and Vivo’s combined shipments almost hit 100 million units last year and are projected to reach 110 million units this year (a combined growth rate of 14.6 per cent).
Strong demand from China vendors is fueling a gradual turnaround for smartphone component suppliers in Asia. For example, Wu said application processor shipments from MediaTek have bounced back a bit since February.
Foundry giant TSMC reported that the capacity utilisation rates of its 20nm and 16nm wafer processors for smartphone chips are currently higher than in Q4. Most of the 20nm orders are from MediaTek, while Apple’s A9 processor and HiSilicon’s Kirin chips constitute the majority of the 16nm orders.
The DRAM market is also seeing a rebound as smartphone makers have raised the memory density of their products, with some models planned to have as much as 6GB in the near future, Wu said.
Current flagship smartphones from Chinese vendors such as the Xiaomi Mi5 Pro Edition and Oppo R9 come with 4GB. The Xplay 5 from Vivo is even equipped with 6GB.