Apple is China’s biggest smartphone brand for the first time since 2015

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Apple is China's biggest smartphone brand
Apple is bigger than Oppo and Vivo on their home turf.
Photo: Apple/Counterpoint Research

Apple has overtaken local firms Oppo and Vivo to become the biggest smartphone brand in China for the first time since 2015, according to the latest market data from Counterpoint Research.

Mobile vendors have been fighting for the top spot since the mammoth downfall of Huawei, and it seems the success of iPhone 13 — which is more affordable than iPhone 12 was in China — helped Apple bag the crown last month.

iPhone 13 a hit in China

iPhone 13 has been a pretty stellar success in almost every market since it made its debut in September. In October, Apple was credited for raking in 75% of global smartphone profits — more than every other company combined.

The newest iPhone lineup has been selling particularly well in China, where sales grew a whopping 46% between September and October, helping Apple claim the number one spot for the first time since December 2015.

“Apple could have gained more if it were not for the shortages, especially for the Pro versions,” said Counterpoint research director Tarun Pathak. “But still, Apple is managing its supply chain better than other OEMs.”

“Overall, the China market has been slow throughout the year and Apple’s growth is a positive sign,” added senior analyst Varun Mishra. “It indicates that Chinese smartphone users are maturing fast and are looking to buy more high-end devices, which can be a good opportunity for brands.”

Huawei has crashed

Despite a change in buying habits, it’s unlikely Apple would be number one if it weren’t for the catastrophic downfall of Huawei. This time two years ago, it was by far the biggest smartphone brand in China, outselling all others combined.

That all changed when Huawei was blocked from using Google’s services — a key component of Android — and customers started looking elsewhere. It has gone from claiming over 50% of sales at its peak to a mere 8% last month.