Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 343.3 million smartphones worldwide in the second quarter (Q2) this year, up 3.1 percent from the first quarter (Q1), a shipment relatively flat compared to the 342.4 million units in the same period last year, according to a report released by consulting company International Data Corporation (IDC) on Thursday.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd retained its leadership as it did in Q1, shipping 77 million smartphones and capturing 22.4 percent of the market, surpassing the Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd combined.
The IDC said Samsung's market performance was fueled by the success of the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge flagship handsets.
Apple, which retained the second spot by claiming 11.8 percent of the market, shipped 40.4 million iPhones in Q2, declining 15 percent year-on-year from the 47.5 million units shipped last year and marking its lowest quarterly volume in seven quarters.
"For Apple, the second quarter is seasonally its lowest of the year as consumers hold off on purchases in anticipation of the next big launch in the third quarter," the IDC said.
Ryan Reith, program vice-president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said Apple started putting more emphasis on "Device as a Service" to try to prevent lengthening replacement cycles.
Huawei, which kept its third position, shipped 32.1 million units, capturing 9.4 percent of the market. The IDC said the company's sales in Europe performed even stronger than in domestic market.
Chinese company Oppo Electronics Corp and Vivo Mobile Communication Technology Co Ltd took fourth and fifth positions respectively as they did in Q1, shipping 22.6 million and 16.4 million units, pushing out previous fourth and fifth place players Lenovo Group Ltd and Xiaomi Corp.
"As smartphone prices continue to drop and competition escalates at the high-end, vendors will need to continue to push 'flagship-type' devices at affordable price points to encourage upgrading on a more frequent basis," said Anthony Scarsella, mobile phones research manager of the IDC.
He said Chinese smartphone brands have hit a sweet spot by launching premium styled devices that focus on the features that matter most to consumers.
In addition, Reith said low-end Chinese original equipment manufacturers are successfully penetrating overseas markets as the growth of Chinese market slows down and competitions in high growth markets like India, Indonesia, and Middle East heat up.