Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 2.7 percent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, totalling 373 million units, and despite its absence from the US, Huawei maintained its ranking as the No.2 smartphone vendor globally and continued to reduce the gap with Samsung, Gartner Inc. said on Tuesday.
In the first quarter of 2019, Samsung retained the top spot in global smartphone sales, achieving a 19.2 percent market share while Huawei achieved the highest year-over-year (YoY) growth among the world's top five, growing 44.5 percent with its smartphone sales totalling 58.4 million units.
"Demand for premium smartphones remained lower than for basic smartphones, which affected brands such as Samsung and Apple that have significant stakes in high-end smartphones," Anshul Gupta, Senior Research Director at Gartner, said in a statement.
"In addition, demand for utility smartphones declined as the rate of upgrading from feature phones to smartphones has slowed, given that 4G feature phones give users great advantages at a lower cost."
Slowing innovation in flagship smartphones and rising prices continued to extend replacement cycles.
The two countries that sell the most smartphones - the US and China - saw sales decline by 15.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2019.
Sales of Huawei smartphones grew in all regions.
"Huawei did particularly well in two of its biggest regions, Europe and Greater China, where its smartphone sales grew by 69 percent and 33 percent, respectively," Gupta noted.
Huawei's continued dominance in Greater China, where it commanded a 29.5 percent market share, helped it secure the No.2 global smartphone vendor ranking in the first quarter of 2019.
"Samsung launched its flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone portfolio which received a good response. However, its impact was limited as Samsung only started shipping the S10 at the end of the first quarter," said Gupta.
"Samsung also strengthened its mid-tier and entry-tier smartphone ranges with a refreshed 'A' series and 'J' series and the newly-introduced 'M' series, but aggressive competition from Chinese manufacturers limited their impact."
Sales of Apple iPhones totalled 44.6 million units in the first quarter of 2019, a decline of 17.6 percent YoY.
"The price cut for iPhones across markets helped drive up demand but wasn't enough to restore growth in the first quarter. Apple is facing longer replacement cycles as users struggle to see enough value benefits to justify replacing existing iPhones," Gupta noted.