Low-end Chinese handsets cut down Apple’s smartphone share

Lenovo and Huawei are among a raft of Chinese companies that are slowly peeling away Apple’s place as the world’s second largest smartphone vendor through a strategy of selling low-end devices.

Related: A closer look at the smartphone market in 2013: Android and iOS dominate but Windows Phone surging

Figures published by IDC show that worldwide smartphone sales grew by 23.1 per cent during Q2 2014 thanks to a record quarter that saw 295.3 million devices shipped in total.

"A record second quarter proves that the smartphone market has plenty of opportunity and momentum," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Right now we have more than a dozen vendors that are capable of landing in the top five next quarter. A handful of these companies are currently operating in a single country, but no one should mistake that for complacency – they all recognize the opportunity that lies outside their home turf."

Samsung still leads the way with a 25.2 per cent share of the market as it shipped 74.3 million smartphones whilst Apple trailed back in second place on 35.1 million shipments that meant a share of 11.9 per cent.

China’s Huawei took third position in the market as 20.3 million shipments was enough for 6.9 per cent of the market and Lenovo, another Chinese firm, sold 15.8 million devices, which was sufficient for 5.4 per cent. The top five was rounded off by LG, which took a 4.9 per cent share of the market through 14.5 million shipments.

This all meant that Huawei’s year-on-year change was an increase of 95.1 per cent and in Lenovo’s case there was a rise of 38.7 per cent.

"As the death of the feature phone approaches more rapidly than before, it is the Chinese vendors that are ready to usher emerging market consumers into smartphones. The offer of smartphones at a much better value than the top global players but with a stronger build quality and larger scale than local competitors gives these vendors a precarious competitive advantage," said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Related: Android and iOS still dominating the smartphone market

Apple’s second quarter sales are traditionally low as many customers are simply waiting for the third quarter when the company usually releasing a new incarnation of its only smartphone, the iPhone.