Q3 smartphone shipments meet seasonal expectations at 250 million units

New Update

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: According to global research firm TrendForce, smartphone shipments have been strong as several smartphone manufacturers introduced new devices in the third quarter. As Apple's new iPhone 5S and 5C hits the market, Android makers like Samsung, Sony, LG, and less well-known Chinese brands are also releasing new smartphone models in the second half of the year.


TrendForce projects smartphone shipments will reach 250 million units in the third quarter, representing 11.6 percent quarter-over-quarter and 36 percent year-over-year growth. Yearly smartphone shipment volume is forecast at 940 million units, a 33.2 percent increase over 2012.

Apple's latest iPhone arrives, Samsung steps up with large displays

Of the top 10 smartphone brands worldwide, only Samsung, Apple, and LG experienced shipment growth in the third quarter. Taking a look at Apple, TrendForce analyst Wilson Miao indicates the Cupertino company tried something new in the third quarter due to unrelenting pressure from Android makers in the first half of the year; with the release of two new iPhone models at once, Apple states it sold 9 million smartphones within the first week.

The smartphone maker calculated total iPhone sales at 33 million units for the third quarter. As the iPhone 5C's price tag is higher than previously expected, iPhone sales are only expected to grow 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, with a projected 46 million shipments.


Samsung broke records in the third quarter, shipping a total of 78 million smartphones. Sporting 3GB of mobile memory and a 5.7-inch display, Samsung's Galaxy 3 differentiates itself from its Apple competitor. According to Miao, with a solid grasp on marketing channels and a clear price strategy, Samsung's dominance of the global smartphone market is unshakable for the time being.

Huawei remains No. 1 Chinese smartphone marker

Benefitting from strong domestic demand, Chinese smartphone makers experienced the highest shipment growth worldwide, with a 20.5 percent increase in the third quarter. Supported by MediaTek and Qualcomm's reference design products, Chinese brands have been taking the domestic market by storm, producing devices with high price-performance ratios.

Huawei came in first again in the third quarter, shipping 15 million smartphones, 2 million more than runner-up Lenovo. Miao notes, Huawei's performance on the domestic market is not particularly impressive - it is foreign market sales, which make up 30 percent of the maker's shipments that place Huawei a cut above its competitors and put the Chinese brand in third place globally.


The Chinese smartphone market will see the arrival of around 180 new models in the second half of 2013. Although stocking for the October 1 national holiday was not as strong as in previous years, the top four smartphone manufacturers still managed to ship an average of approximately 10 million units in the third quarter.

However, with tough competition when it comes to smartphone price, device makers' margins are not as high as they once were. Furthermore, as China continues to struggle with cash flow issues, small smartphone makers that are unable to achieve economies of scale are forced to withdraw from the market, with some staying on to provide low-cost manufacturing for large companies.

TrendForce expects next year will see a wave of China's white-box smartphone makers exiting the market as they succumb to the pressures of competing against leading domestic and foreign brands.