Europe in total saw shipments of 46 million smartphones. The market to suffer was Western Europe, where shipments fell 13.9% to 30.1 million units. The smaller markets of Central and Eastern Europe, however, showed growth, with shipments growing by 12.3% to 15.9 million units. Russia was the standout market in the latter two regions.
Last month, Canalys reported that smartphone shipments for China had shown a dramatic fall for Q1 2018.
The top three smartphone vendors had differing results in Europe during the quarter. Samsung stayed at the top, shipping more than 15 million smartphones, but slipped 15% compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year as Huawei and Xiaomi increased pressure on its low-end and mid-range models.
Apple outperformed the market and shipped more than 10 million units, but this was still a 5.4% fall. As a percentage of models shipped, the iPhone X declined slightly from Q4, to about 25%, but it still stayed the top shipping smartphone in the region.
Canalys said Apple’s larger portfolio strategy would become more important as the year progressed, with more than 25% of its Q1 shipments being the iPhone SE, 6 and 6S – models that are over two years old. This wider spread of shipments offset the value growth driven by the pricier iPhone X.
Huawei bucked the trend, growing 38.6% and shipping 7.4 million units. It shipped more than one million of its new P Smart in its first full quarter. But the delay in launching its flagship P20, versus last year’s P10, meant that very few of its Q1 shipments were premium models.
Despite its large volume growth, it only managed to boost its shipment value by 1.7% over the previous year. But the company would be confident of a rise in average selling price as the P20 truly comes into play in Q2.
Canalys pointed out that Samsung, Apple and Huawei had increased their collective share of the Europe market from 61.0% in Q1 2014 to 71.4% in Q1 2018. Smaller brands, such as Alcatel, Sony and LG, suffered substantial declines in Q1 2018.
“This is a new era for smartphones in Europe,” said Ben Stanton, analyst at Canalys. “The few remaining growth markets are not enough to offset the saturated ones. We are moving from a growth era to a cyclical era. This presents a brand-new challenge to the incumbents, and we expect several smaller brands to leave the market in the coming years.”
Canalys said flagship smartphone features had been increasingly commoditised by budget brands which were bringing such specifications to the mid-market.
"The likes of Honor, Wiko and Xiaomi have been instrumental in driving growth in specifications such as dual and triple cameras, which grew more than 150% on the previous year. Smartphone screens also continued to increase in size, with shipments of smartphones with screens larger than 5.5" growing more than 50%. The commoditisation of 18:9 aspect ratio screens has been a catalyst for this growth," the company said.
“Dual-SIM is also a growing specification trend in Europe,” said Vincent Thielke, Canalys research analyst. “It has taken longer to take hold than elsewhere in the world, because operators are paranoid about ranging dual-SIM phones, as it opens up the opportunity for competitors to sell lines into their installed base.
"But due to the growth of dual-SIM through retail channels, especially through brands such as Huawei and Wiko, operators are being forced to re-evaluate their portfolios and consider dual-SIM. Vendors are reacting too, and Samsung has made an explicit push to bring dual-SIM to more of its devices in more of its channels in 2018.”
Graphics: courtesy Canalys