In Q1 2018.

Global sales of smartphones increased 1.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, according to Gartner. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, sales of total mobile phones stalled and reached 455 million units in the first quarter of 2018.

Nearly 384 million smartphones were sold in the first quarter of 2018, representing 84% of total mobile phones sold.

Gartner research director, Anshul Gupta said, “Demand for premium and high-end smartphones continued to suffer due to marginal incremental benefits during upgrade. Demand for entry-level smartphones (sub-$100) and low mid-tier smartphones (sub-$150) improved due to better-quality models.”

Samsung growth slows as Apple share increases

Samsung’s mid-tier smartphones faced continued competition from Chinese brands, which led to unit sales contraction year on year. This is despite the earlier launch of its flagship Galaxy S9/S9+ compared to the S8/S8+ in 2017, and despite the Note 8 having a positive impact on Samsung sales in the first quarter of 2018. Samsung’s smartphone growth rate will remain under pressure through 2018.

Meanwhile, the delayed sales boost for Apple from last quarter materialised. Apple’s smartphone unit sales returned to growth in the first quarter of 2018, with an increase of 4% year on year.

“Even though demand for Apple’s iPhone X exceeded that of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the vendor struggled to drive significant smartphone replacements, which led to slower-than-expected growth in the first quarter of 2018,” Gupta added. “With its exclusive focus on premium smartphones, Apple needs to significantly raise the overall experience of its next-generation iPhones to trigger replacements and lead to solid growth in the near future.”

Huawei: A big winner

Huawei’s refreshed smartphone portfolio helped strengthen its number three global smartphone vendor position with 18.3% growth in the first quarter of 2018.

However, Gupta warns that its future growth increasingly depends on the vendor ramping up share in Emerging Asia/Pacific and resolving issues in the US market.

“Huawei’s attempt to grow its premium smartphone portfolio with its recent launches of the P20, P20 Pro and Honor 10 helps raise its competitiveness and growth potential.”