A recent report suggests smartphone sales fell in the final three months of 2017 — the first quarterly drop since analysts began tracking the market 13 years earlier.
For the full year, however, sales still increased compared to 2016.
The Gartner survey found that nearly 408 million smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of the year compared to more than 432 million sold in the same period of 2016.
Analysts said smartphone users increasingly tend to buy quality devices — and keep them longer — while the number of people upgrading from feature phones to smartphones slowed.
“Moreover, while demand for high-quality 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales,” Gartner research director Anshul Gupta said in a statement.
The report also said that although both Samsung and Apple smartphone sales declined over that span, the Korean tech giant took over the top spot in the market from its U.S. rival. Samsung sold 74 million devices compared to nearly 77 million in the prior fourth quarter, while Apple sold 73 million, down from more than 77 million.
Gartner said that sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ started to ease but nonetheless helped maintain a strong average sales price. The recently announced S9 and S9+, meanwhile, “are likely to boost Samsung’s smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018.”
The report also suggested that Apple’s iPhone X was hurt by parts shortages and manufacturing issues — and that the new phone curbed sales of its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well. Gupta said the research firm anticipates a “delayed sales boost” due to the iPhone X in the current quarter.
The fourth quarter was kinder to Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Xiaomi, whose smartphone sales jumped by 7.6 percent and 79 percent, respectively. Huawei ranked behind Samsung and Apple with nearly 44 million smartphones sold, followed by Xiaomi at 28 million and OPPO at nearly 26 million.
“Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging [Asia] and the U.S.,” Gupta said. “Xiaomi’s biggest market outside China is India, where it will continue to see high growth.”
During the full calendar year, smartphone sales increased 2.7 percent to more than 1.5 billion. Samsung increased its market-leading position as its sales grew from 306 million in 2016 to 321 million, while Apple sales fell slightly to nearly 215 million.