According to the latest research by Counterpoint, global smartphone market revenues remained flat year-on-year (YoY) despite growing by 15 per cent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to just over $ 100 billion in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023. Apple led the market with 43 per cent share of global smartphone revenues, its highest-ever for a calendar Q3. This was despite Apple’s latest iPhone 15 series being available for one less week in the Q3 of 2023 compared with its predecessor in the same period of the last year. This translated into Apple also clocking its highest-ever share of global smartphone revenue for a quarter ending (QE) September 2023.

Commenting on the findings, Harmeet Singh Walia, senior analyst, said, “Pro Max being the best-selling variant of the iPhone 15 series contributed to Apple also achieving its highest-ever Q3 operating profit. However, its global smartphone operating profit share remained flat due to a resurgence of Huawei and HONOR, and an increased focus on profitability by other Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Xiaomi and OPPO. Consequently, the global smartphone operating profit reached an all-time high, signaling more definitely how the smartphone market has adjusted to the post-pandemic trend of lower shipments.”

Samsung’s average selling price (ASP) grew 4 per cent YoY owing to the successful launch of Fold 5, maintained momentum in S23 series’ sales, and a higher flagship share in major product lineups. Nevertheless, an 8 per cent shipment decline in the same period, offset the ASP increase, causing Samsung’s revenue to decline by 4 per cent annually.

While OPPO’s focus on phones with higher ASPs, such as foldables, of which the OPPO Find N2 Flip is the top-selling in China. It is helping it achieve profitability, a slowdown in its expansion outside of China and India has brought about a YoY shipment decline, and OPPO’s smartphone revenue in the first three quarters of 2023 being the lowest since the pandemic. vivo, while remaining profitable, has faced greater challenge in its home country, China, where its promotions have been less aggressive than HONOR and Xiaomi. Consequently, vivo’s smartphone revenue fell 12 per cent YoY, and is almost half of Q3 2021.

Xiaomi is the only top five smartphone brand to see shipment increases both QoQ and YoY in Q3 2023 as it strengthened its positions in key markets such as China and India, offered more affordable mid-range products at promotional prices to both retailers and consumers and on the back of strong sales of the Redmi K and Note series. Consequently, it achieved both revenue and operating profit growth both sequentially and annually.

Meanwhile, Jeff Fieldhack, research director, said, “Counterpoint Research estimates that the China smartphone market declined about 3 per cent during the quarter. Apple’s China revenues fell 2.5 per cent during the quarter. Considering the increased competition from Huawei 5G devices, this is a good signal for Apple and the iPhone 15 series. Especially since the Pro Max and Pro were supply-constrained.”

The full impact of the iPhone 15 series is yet to be seen during the global holiday season expected to be boosted by upgrades from iPhone 11 and 12 users. While the latest iPhone series had underperformed in China in the launch quarter due to a shorter pre-holiday shopping period coupled with supply mismatches on the Pro Max, it could see improvement in the year-ending quarter with a strong 11.11 sales event performance which should also benefit other Chinese smartphone vendors. The elongated festive season in India would boost shipments and revenues in the world’s second-largest smartphone market where pent-up demand and 5G upgrades will also contribute to growth. On the whole, the global smartphone market could end the year with cyclical growth.