Figures from analyst companies showed the smartphone sector suffered its largest-ever decline in shipments during the opening quarter, due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Figures released separately by IDC and Strategy Analytics showed an average of 275.4 million units were shipped during the quarter, compared with the 321.4 million units average of their Q1 2019 numbers.

In a statement, Strategy Analytics director Linda Sui said Q1 was the “worst performance since records began”, with consumer demand drying up due to lockdowns.

IDC research director Nabila Popal separately highlighted “a supply-side problem” in China. The country, which accounted for a quarter of global shipments, was at the peak of its lockdown during Q1, resulting in a “huge impact on the overall market”.

Compounding this was the fact other major global economies implemented containment measures just as China was easing restrictions, Popal noted.

The research companies’ top-five tables broadly concurred, with Samsung heading the charts with an average of 58.3 million units followed by Huawei (48.8 million), Apple (37.9 million) and Xiaomi (28.5 million).

However, they were split on which vendor took fifth spot: IDC reported Vivo returned to the top five, while Strategy Analytics said fellow Chinese vendor Oppo held the spot.

Sui noted Xiaomi benefitted from a domination of the “huge India market”, meaning its shipments remained flat on Q1 2019, while the other vendors recorded declines.

IDC broadly agreed, but noted Apple suffered the lowest rate of decline, thanks mostly to momentum around its iPhone 11 series.

It predicted Apple’s recently unveiled iPhone SE could boost shipments moving forward.