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Global smartphone sales show lowest growth since 2013: Gartner

China sees first-ever handset-sales decline

IT Business, Market research, Mobility, Handsets, Gartner Inc. (www.gartner.com/technology/home.jsp)

Global smartphone sales showed their lowest growth rate since 2013 in the second quarter, according to figures from Gartner.

Worldwide unit sales of handsets to consumers hit 330m, an increase of 13.5% over the same period in 2014.

"While demand for lower-cost 3G and 4G smartphones continued to drive growth in emerging markets, overall smartphone sales remained mixed, region by region, in the second quarter of 2015," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Emerging Asia-Pacific (excluding China), Eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa were the fastest-growing regions. Gartner attributed their contribution to overall growth to strides made by Chinese vendors, but smartphone sales in China itself fell for the first time, year on year, recording a 4% decline.

"China is the biggest country for smartphone sales, representing 30% of total sales of smartphones in the second quarter of 2015," said Gupta. "Its poor performance negatively affected the performance of the mobile phone market in the second quarter. China has reached saturation; its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers. Beyond the lower-end phone segment, the appeal of premium smartphones will be key for vendors to attract upgrades and to maintain or grow their market share in China."

Despite the launch of its Galaxy S6 range, Samsung's premium devices still saw stiff competition from Apple's well-received iPhone Plus phablet. The South Korean firm lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and experienced a 5.3% slide in unit sales in the second quarter.

Huawei enjoyed the largest sales bump rate of 46.3%, due to strong overseas sales and 4G smartphone sales in its native China.

Apple's iPhone sales leapt 36%, giving the US giant a 2.4-percentage-point gain in market share. Apple saw robust iPhone replacements in both emerging and mature markets, and particularly in China. Total iPhone sales in China grew 68% to 11.9m units.