China’s smartphone shipments dropped 11 percent year-on-year in Q4 2021, with Apple ending on top and reaching its highest market share ever.

According to Counterpoint Research, Honor increased its market share by more than two times from a year ago to become China’s second-biggest OEM for the first time after becoming an independent company.

Both Apple and Honor delivered surprises to the upside and continued the trend of a constantly changing competitive landscape.

Apple’s iPhone 13 dominated the premium segment thanks to its comparatively lower launch price.

Honor’s mid-to-high-end products helped drive the brand’s sales with the Honor 50 retaining the top spot in the $200-$599 price band for five months after its launch.

vivo’s shipments dropped 13.8 percent YoY in Q4 2021 with its market share at 16.5 percent. Xiaomi fell to the fifth position, sustaining its downward trend. OPPO rose to third as it included its sub-brand OnePlus.

Even though the shipments were down in 2021, major OEMs kept expanding their premium product portfolios. Such devices include Vivo’s X70 Pro, Xiaomi’s Mix 4, and HONOR’s Magic3 and Magic V.

Among Android devices, Honor’s Magic3 led the segment. The series comes with an iconic exterior design and Snapdragon 888-led flagship-level specifications. Software and hardware integrations enhance the user experience.

Foldables is another hot option for OEMs to target the premium segment by providing differentiated products. Also, Apple is yet to enter this segment, which means an opportunity for other OEMs to get a head start.

Coming into 2022, OEMs including Honor, Vivo, and OPPO will keep trying to expand in the premium segment. In addition to foldable products, Android brands will introduce more premium smartphones this year to reclaim some of the market share gained by Apple in 2021.

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