Apple beat other brands to become top smartphone brand in China in October 2021

Filling the premium gap left by Huawei's decline.

Kayla Wong | December 29, 2021, 06:44 PM

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Apple has become the largest smartphone brand in China for the first time since December 2015, according to Counterpoint Research, a market research and consulting company based in Hong Kong.

The American multinational tech company surpassed Chinese smartphone brand Vivo to take the lead in October 2021.

iPhone 13 doing well in China

According to Counterpoint Research, Apple's jump in sales, which was a whopping 46 per cent from the previous month, was driven by the iPhone13 series.

Graph via Counterpoint Research

Although the latest iPhone series has scant differences from the previous lineup launched last year, it has been highly sought after in China due to its cheaper price. An iPhone 13 is about RMB300 to RMB500 (S$64 to S$106) cheaper than iPhone 12, depending on the model, according to Caixin Global.

Consumers were also drawn to the high storage capacity at a more competitive price as well, according to Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Counterpoint Research further pointed out that Apple's outstanding performance had come at a time when many consumers were waiting to make their purchases the next month in November instead, due to the Singles' Day discounts available.

The same period saw a slide in sales for the other key smartphone brands, with China's smartphone market growing at a more subdued 2 per cent.

The Chinese market makes up about one-fifth of iPhone sales, making it crucial to Apple's global sales.

Apple and other domestic phone brands filling the gap left by Huawei

The rise in demand for the iPhone 13 series in China has come after Apple experienced a drop in demand among Chinese consumers over the years, mainly due to its high price and the rise of domestic brands like Huawei and Xiaomi.

However, Huawei's share in the local market has been eroded by the impact of U.S. trade sanctions that restricted the Chinese tech giant from using American technology and software, including high-end chips.

Its decline has given other domestic brands the opportunity to rise and gain a greater market share, according to Caixin Global.

According to Counterpoint's Research Director Tarun Pathak, Huawei's relative decline has also left a "premium" gap that Apple came to fill.

Mengmeng Zhang, a Beijing-based analyst with Counterpoint Research told WSJ that consumers scarcely see Huawei phones out in the market.

“There will be a lot of users who if they want to buy a premium phone, their only option is to buy from Apple," she said.

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Top image via Quan Yajun/Visual China Group/Getty Images