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China’s Mobile Phone Shipments Fall 27% as Users Delay Upgrading

By He Shujing and Ding Yi / Jul 14, 2021 02:17 PM / Business & Tech

Handset makers doing business in China witnessed a strong contraction in sales in the second quarter of 2021 despite the country’s economic rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the three months through June, China’s mobile phone shipments plummeted 27% year-on-year to 76 million units, according to statistics from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).

The CAICT, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, gathers data on sales of cellphones to dealerships in China.

Early signs of a slowdown appeared in April and May, when shipments fell more than 30% year-on-year, while in June, the downward trend eased to a year-on-year drop of about 10%.

Many Android phone makers spent heavily on marketing in the first quarter as they raced to launch new flagship models in an attempt to fill a void left by Huawei, a move that attracted some consumers who had planned to upgrade their phones in the second quarter, IDC analyst Wang Xi told Caixin, explaining the plunge in sales. A buying spree during the Lunar New Year period in February also contributed to the lukewarm demand in the second quarter, said Wang.

A dealer who talked on the condition of anonymity attributed the slowdown to the trend of consumers waiting longer before upgrading their handsets as the average cost of a cellphone has reached 3,300 yuan ($510).

In 2020, Chinese handset owners used their phones for an average of 25.3 months before retiring them, compared to 24.3 months in 2019, according to statistics from China Mobile, one of the country’s three major telecom carriers.

Related: China’s 2021 Smartphone Sales Surge Comes to an End in April

Contact reporter Ding Yi ( and editor Heather Mowbray (

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