China’s smartphone market has recorded a good start to 2023 driven by the restoration of normal social activities in the country after the COVID-19 wave in December. The Chinese New Year season also started earlier than usual this year, helping the weekly sales walk out of the trough at the beginning of 2023. Sales for iPhones with China's JD.com started on December 29th with big discounts. Apple remained the leader in smartphones in China in Q4 2022 and had momentum going into the Chinese New Year.
A new report by Counterpoint states that at the start of 2023, the smartphone sales quickly increased week over week to reach above 7 million before the week the Chinese New Year season started. In four out of five weeks, the sales stayed above 6 million, a level seldom reached in 2022 when the pandemic haunted China’s cities from time to time. The average weekly sales during the period were 6.7 million units, much higher than the average of 5.5 million units in 2022. In January, the monthly sales were flat compared to the previous year’s same month, which recorded the highest sales in 2022, but sequentially grew more than 40%.
Apple remained China’s biggest OEM in January in terms of sales share and its sales increased about 6% YoY, according to preliminary data from Counterpoint Market Pulse Service.
The industry is skeptical that the strong sales in the first five weeks of 2023 are a solid indicator of a recovery in demand. Some attribute this more to the pent-up demand from December and the earlier-than-usual arrival of the Chinese New Year season rather than the substantial improvement on the demand side.
Yet Counterpoint believes that the withdrawal of the 'COVID-Zero' policy will provide a healthier environment for the smartphone market in 2023.