What you need to know

The mobile phone market in China continued to see slow growth in volume sales in 2016 although value sales increased at a higher pace.

Huawei was the biggest winner in 2016, in terms of market volume share as well as consumer ownership, purchase intention and loyalty. OPPO and Vivo also enjoyed share increases, while Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi faced challenges.

Most consumers do not wait until their old phone breaks to buy a new one, and most of them would always buy the latest model based on survey results. Consumers show the tendency to upgrade if they were to purchase a new smartphone, and the less expensive their current phone is, the higher the upgrade rate is. Upgrades in function and appearance are the most appealing features to motivate purchase. Furthermore, consumers show similar preference for online and offline purchase channels, but they would trust online information more than in-store staff.

Covered in this report

The definition follows previous Mintel Reports, Mobile Phones – China, January 2016 and Mobile Phones – China, January 2015.

The mobile phone market covers 2G, 3G and 4G and other mobile phone handsets. Although the report includes both non-smartphones – which covers basic mobile phones and feature phones – and smartphones, the analysis focuses mainly on smartphones which is the leading segment.

  • 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.

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, for example, Apple iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.

Personal income

‘High earners’ in this report are defined as those who have monthly personal income of RMB 8,000 or above.

‘Mid earners’ refers to those who have monthly personal income of RMB 5,000-7,999.

‘Low earners’ are defined as those with monthly personal income of RMB 4,999 or below.

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