China-based smartphone vendors saw their combined first-quarter 2021 shipments decline 9.7% sequentially to 191 million units, which, however, represented a sharp on-year increase of 73.8%, with the on-quarter fall also improving significantly from corresponding shrinkages of over 20% seen in pre-pandemic years, according to Digitimes Research.
The narrowing sequential fall mainly resulted from Chinese handset vendors Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi aggressively snatching domestic market shares left behind by Huawei facing tough US trade sanctions.
The three vendors together shipped 129 million smartphones in the first quarter, accounting for 67.5% of total shipments by Chinese suppliers, up from 58.7% registered a quarter earlier. Huawei's first-quarter shipments shrank 53.6% sequentially, Digitimes Research statistics show.
Among other vendors, Honor, a spin-off from Huawei, sustained flat shipment performance in the first quarter as its sales remained focused on old models, and Transsion saw its first-quarter sales only slightly decline sequentially thanks to its smartphones with high price-performance ratios becoming increasingly popular with consumers in emerging markets now transitioning to smartphones from feature handsets.
Digitimes Research also estimates the combined second-quarter shipments from China's handset vendors will drop 7.2% sequentially on seasonality and continued shortages of components. But the quarter's shipments are expected to grow on year thanks to lower comparison base for 2020.