Chinese smartphone brands continue to shake up the worldwide smartphone market, the latest Gartner figures reveal.
With the smartphone market inevitably slowing down and large vendors experiencing growth saturation, it has presented an opportunity for emerging firms to make their presence known.
Although phone ownership is reaching saturation point in many significant markets, global smartphone sales still managed to grow by 3.9% in the first quarter of 2016, compared with the same quarter in 2015.
Gartner data shows that global sales of smartphones to end users totalled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016.
The year-on-year rise is all the more impressive given that iPhone sales declined for the first time between January and March.
The growth was driven by demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets and for affordable 4G smartphones, with providers in many markets worldwide rolling out their 4G connection promotion plans, said the report.
Samsung led the way in Q1 with estimated shipments totalling 81 million units, off the back of the release of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Then came Apple with 51 million units, followed up by three Chinese manufacturers - Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi – who managed to sell roughly 60 million smartphones between them.
"With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.
He noted how Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi now have a combined market share of 17%, having taken sales away from players such as Lenovo, Samsung and Yulong.
The emergence of the three Chinese brands caused Samsung's global market share to fall to 23.2% in the first quarter from 24.1% in the same quarter last year, while Apple saw an even bigger drop, from 17.9% in Q1 2015 to 14.8% in Q1 2016.