Global smartphone sell-through volumes fell 8 per cent year over year (YoY) in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, the ninth consecutive quarter to record a decline, but grew 2 per cent quarter on quarter (QoQ), according to the latest data from Counterpoint. Volumes declined YoY largely due to slower than expected recovery in consumer demand. But the market’s QoQ growth, especially the positive performance in September 2023 despite one full week less of sales of the new iPhones, is likely a sign of positive news ahead.

Further, as per the report, Samsung continued to lead the global market, capturing a fifth of the total sales in Q3. The new generation of foldables received a mixed response, with the Flip 5 outselling its counterpart by nearly twice as much. However, Samsung’s A-series models remained market leaders in mid-price bands. Apple came in second with a 16 per cent market share despite the limited availability of iPhone 15 series, which has been received well so far.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo rounded off the top five, with the three recording YoY declines. In Q3, all these brands worked towards strengthening their positions in key markets like China and India, while continuing to slow down expansionary efforts in overseas markets. Whereas, HONORHuawei and Transsion Group gained share and were among the only brands to record YoY growth in Q3. Huawei grew driven by the launch of the Mate 60 series in China, while HONOR’s growth was led by strong overseas performance. Transsion brands continued to expand while also benefiting from the recovery in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) market.

Additionally, the report shows that MEA was the only region to record YoY growth in Q3, owing to improvements in macroeconomic indicators. Most developed markets, like North America, Western Europe and South Korea, recorded steep declines. However, we expect most developed markets to grow in Q4 largely due to the delayed effect of the iPhone launch.

Counterpoint report predicts the momentum to continue till the year-end, beginning with the full impact of the iPhone 15 series along with the arrival of the festive season in India, followed by the 11.11 sales event in China and ending with the Christmas and end-of-year promotions across regions. In Q4 2023, the research firm expects the market to halt its series of YoY declines.

However, the market is expected to decline for the full year of 2023, reaching its lowest level in the decade largely due to a shift in device replacement patterns, particularly in developed markets. Notably, the recovery of emerging markets before the global market and the growth of brands outside of the top five indicate the shifting dynamics and opportunities in the global smartphone market.