iPhone becomes China’s top-selling smartphone for first time


iPhone took the top spot for smartphones sales in China for the first time.
iPhone took the top spot for smartphones sales in China for the first time.
Photo: Apple

Just as Apple overtook Samsung as the worldwide smartphone leader in 2023, iPhone also became China’s favorite smartphone during that timeframe, according to a new report Thursday from International Data Tracker (IDC).

Apple captured 17.3% of China’s smartphone market in 2023, up from 16.8% in 2022 — albeit in a shrinking marketplace where smartphone shipments declined 5% overall, but with signs of recovery showing up late in the year.

In 2023, Apple topped smartphone sales in China for the first time

IDC reported on Apple’s global smartphone sales dominance on January 15, showing it topped Samsung, and on its market-leading performance in China on January 25 (after ups and downs in recent years).

“The last time a company not named Samsung was at the top of the smartphone market was 2010, and for 2023 it is now Apple,” IDC wrote about the January 15 report, reflected in the chart below. “A sort of shifting of power at the top of the largest consumer electronics market was driven by an all-time high market share for Apple and a first time at the top.”

Top smartphone companies globally in 2023:

IDC chart of top global smartphone companies
This chart shows top global smartphone companies in 2023.
Photo: IDC

And that global dominance appears to translate to dominance in China, where iPhone entered the market in 2009 and Apple opened its 56th retail store in the country in November 2023. The smartphone market there has contracted substantially but showed signs of recovery in the fourth quarter of 2023, with year-over-year growth of 1.2% on shipments of 73.6 million units after 10 straight quarters of decline.

While iPhone growth began to stall in 2015, the smartphone still makes up a considerable slice of Apple’s revenue pie. Selling more iPhones in China is definitely a good sign for Cupertino.

“Apple’s climb to the top spot in 2023, especially in light of renewed competition from Huawei and the soft spending sentiment, marks a tremendous success for Apple,” said Arthur Guo, senior research analyst in Client System Research for IDC China.

“Apple achieved this thanks to timely price promotions in its third-party channels, which stimulated demand,” he added. “Meanwhile, Honor maintained its number 2 position thanks to improvement in its channel partnerships and a well-rounded product strategy, capturing the high end with its successful foldable lineup and the low-to-mid range with several popular models.”

Top smartphone companies in China in 2023:

IDC chart showing leading smartphone companies in China
This chart shows smartphone market leaders in China in 2023.
Photo: IDC

IDC’s lists of top smartphone companies differ at global and China levels, of course. Samsung is No. 2 globally but not on the list in China. There, Chinese companies Honor and Oppo are second and third after Apple, respectively.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.