The International Data Corporation (IDC) has a “Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker” that gives quarterly data on total mobile phone sales in the world market. And in Q1 of 2016, there has been a slowdown in growth of the market – something that was expected. The unexpected came in the form of two lesser-known Chinese manufacturers – OPPO and Vivo – making it to the top five manufacturers in terms of shipments.

There was growth in the market this quarter, a total of 334.9 million smartphones shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2016, up slightly from the 334.3 million units in Q1 of 2015. This, according to IDC, was the smallest growth in the market record year-over-year. Some say this is due to the decline in sales by both Apple and Samsung, still the top 2 manufacturers in terms of sales. But there is a feeling that the markets in developed countries have been saturated with smartphone technology. In laymen’s terms, people don’t want to upgrade just yet because their phones from a year or 2 ago still work perfectly.


The big surprise in the numbers was the inclusion of Chinese brands OPPO and Vivo in the top 5 (4th and 5th, respectively), a change that kicked out previous players Lenovo and Xiaomi from the list. Huawei retained its third place rank in the list. China, still one of the biggest markets for smartphones, is also experiencing a maturing in terms of technology – and those who buck the trend, offering great specs for lower prices, usually win in these times.

Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo are looking at gains this year, mainly because they are targeting the sub-USD$250 range. The top tier of the market is slowing down, that much Apple and Samsung can attest to. So it is a race to reach those emerging markets that just can’t afford the flagships. In this race, the Chinese brands are positioned strongly.