“China’s mobile phone market is maturing with a more stable growth of 15.6% in retail sales volume in 2014. The non-smartphone to smartphone switching has almost completed, presenting 92% of smartphone sales volume out of the total market.
Thanks to its start of internet-based model (marketing and understanding consumers’ needs via online) and affordable smartphones with high configuration, Xiaomi has reached the sales volume of mobile phone market leader – Samsung in 2014. As the star of the premium smartphone segment, Apple ranked the first by sales value in 2014.
Both Xiaomi and Apple’s successes show that the strong players win by responding to consumer needs. Brands and companies should continuously offer high-quality products and focus on enhancing customer stickiness via outstanding consumer services and brand image.”
– Ivy Jiang, Research Analyst

In this report, Mintel answers the following key questions:

  • What is the current mobile phone and smartphone ownership status in China?

  • What are consumers’ preferences on brand, price and screen size of mobile phone?

  • Where is information sourced from when consumers purchase mobile phones?

  • What are future purchase intentions of smartphones on brand, price and screen size?

  • How to enhance Chinese consumers’ brand loyalty?

  • What will help mobile phone manufacturers stand out?

  • Will large-screen smartphones become mainstream?


The definition follows last year’s report – Mobile Phones and Apps – China, February 2014. This report focuses on the China mobile phone market only and researches consumers’ preferences on brands, price and screen size.

The mobile phone market covers 2G, 3G and 4G and other mobile phone handsets. The report includes both non-smartphones – which covers basic mobile phones and feature phones – and smartphones.

A basic mobile phone is mainly capable of calling and sending text messages.

A feature phone is defined as a device capable of connecting to the 2G networks (but not usually 3G), and which may come with a colour screen, a music player or a camera, but which typically lacks the advanced web browsing ability of a smartphone as well as the ability to download more applications.

A smartphone is defined as any modern mobile phone capable of connecting to the internet, and capable of downloading applications from proprietary application stores. The main operating systems (OS) examined in this context are as follows:

  • iOS, created by Apple and installed on all Apple iPhones.

  • Android, created by Google and installed on a number of handsets from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). There are many OS user interfaces (UIs) based on Android, such as Xiaomi’s MIUI.

  • Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, created by Microsoft and installed on a number of handsets from OEMs.

  • The BlackBerry OS, created by Research In Motion and installed exclusively on BlackBerry devices.

  • Besides, Symbian also offers version S60 for smartphones.

Phablets are included, which is defined as a smartphone with a screen size of 5-7 inches diagonally and have the ability to make phone calls over a mobile network.


For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned a quantitative research survey carried out online via QQSurvey to examine consumers’ usage behaviour and attitudes towards mobile phones.

Fieldwork was conducted in October 2014, in four tier one cities and six tier two and tier three cities of 3,000 adults aged 20-49 across the country. The tier one cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The tier two and tier three cities are Changchun, Linyi, Anqing, Fuzhou, Hengyang and Xi’an.

This is a marketing intelligence report published by Mintel. The consumer research exclusively commissioned for this report was conducted by a Chinese licensed market survey agent (see Research Methodology China for more information).


CAGR Compound Annual Growth Rate
CNNIC China Internet Network Information Centre
NBS National Bureau of Statistics
OS Operating System
APAC Asia Pacific
MIIT Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
VNO Virtual Network Operator
SASAC State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission
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