China’s smartphone market picked up speed in Q3, expanding 15 per cent year-on-year to 121 million units – its fastest growth for a year, according to Strategy Analytics.

The country remains by far the world’s largest smartphone market, accounting for 32 per cent of the 375 million smartphones shipped globally last quarter.

Strategy Analytics director Linda Sui said the market is returning to faster growth in the second half of 2016 due to a more stable economic climate, multiple flagship 4G model launches and solid direct or indirect subsidies from Chinese operators.

According to Strategy Analytics, Huawei continued to be the market leader. But despite a 9 per cent increase in shipments to 18 million units, its market share fell to 14.9 per cent from 15.7 a year ago (see chart below, click to enlarge).
Rival Oppo boosted shipments 136 per cent to 17 million units, with its share doubling to 14.1 per cent and moved into second place, trailing Huawei by less than 1 percentage point. Vivo was third with shipments expanding 81 per cent to 16.5 million, giving it a 13.6 per cent share, up from just 8.7 per cent in Q315.

Xiaomi suffered yet another weak quarter, as shipments fell 31 per cent to 11.4 million units and its share dropping to 9.4 per cent from 15.7 per cent a year ago, when it was near the top. The once fast-rising startup is facing tough competition in mid-tier segments from Huawei, Gionee, LeEco and others, said Strategy Analytics senior analyst Yiwen Wu.

Apple’s iPhone, with shipments plunging 31 per cent to 7.5 million units in Q3, saw its share of the smartphone market fall to 6.2 per cent from 10.3 per cent in Q315.