What you need to know

The growth of China’s mobile phone market has slowed down in 2015. The development of the 4G network, a shortening purchasing cycle, the boom in online retailing and a wide variety of products available across different price ranges are driving market growth. The fact that the market has almost reached saturation in terms of penetration, the unclear future of operator subsidies and the fierce price competition between the Android smartphone brands are potential market challenges.

Consumers are shortening the purchasing cycle of buying smartphones. Brand loyalty, however, is relatively low among Android phone users. This may be a result of the lack of differentiation between different Android phone brands, in terms of perceived performance on different aspects as well as brand associations.

To drive business growth, companies and brands need to focus on satisfying consumers’ unmet needs, building premium brand images and differentiating their brand identities.

Products/themes covered in this report

The definition follows last year’s report – Mobile Phones – China, January 2015. This report focuses on the China mobile phone market only and researches consumer preferences and association with brands.

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. The analysis focuses mainly on smartphones.

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

  • A feature phone is defined as a device capable of connecting to 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, as well as downloading applications from proprietary application stores.

The main smartphone operating systems (OSs) examined in this report 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.

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

Demographic classification

Household income

Tier one cities Tier two and three cities
High monthly household income RMB16,000 and above RMB14,000 and above
Mid monthly household income RMB10,000-15,999 RMB7,000-13,999
Low monthly household income RMB4,000-9,999 RMB4,000-6,999
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