Worldwide smartphone sales recorded the slowest growth rate since 2013 in the second quarter of 2015, with sales to end users totaling 330 million units, an increase of 13.5 percent over the same period in 2014, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.
In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Google Android's global share was affected by the weak performance of China in the second quarter of 2015 and the strong performance in China of Apple, which has taken share from Android for the last three quarters.
"We don't see a long-term impact on smartphone sales, just a slight readjustment in overall sales estimates for 2015," Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, told eWEEK. He added that there is “a bit of slow down,” but growth in many emerging markets in Asia continued to be in line with Gartner’s expectations.
Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung's premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple's large-screen iPhones.
Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3 percent in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.
Huawei recorded the highest sales growth rate of 46.3 percent, thanks to strong overseas sales and 4G smartphone sales in China. China is the biggest country for smartphone sales, representing 30 percent of total sales of smartphones in the second quarter of 2015.
Apple iPhone sales increased 36 percent, which helped the company gain 2.4 percentage points in market share.
The company recorded strong iPhone replacements in both emerging and mature markets, particularly in China. Total iPhone sales in China grew 68 percent to 11.9 million units.
"Samsung is facing competition at both [the] high end and mid -to low- tier from Apple and Chinese brands," Gupta explained. Samsung needs to find a way to differentiate its products from the competition and focus on adding features that add value to the end-user, he added.
Worldwide mobile phone sales to end-users totaled 446 million units during the second quarter of 2015.
The performance was flat (0.4 per cent) year over year, with vendors that are focused on the emerging markets, such as Huawei, ZTE, TCL Communication and Micromax, benefitting from high demand in these markets.
Meanwhile, global vendors such as Sony, Samsung and HTC have struggled to achieve growth at the high end of the market, the report noted.
Gupta said emerging markets will continue to show huge growth in the coming years. So far, their contribution to overall smartphone sales has been less than 30 percent. Now, the availability of affordable smartphones with the latest features is driving fast replacement of feature phones with smartphones in those markets, he said, adding that he expects sub-$120 smartphones with the latest specifications and 4G connectivity to drive growth.