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Apple No Longer No. 1 In China: Which Smartphone Outsold The iPhone 6s In 2016?

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Apple no longer holds the title as the company with the best-selling smartphone in the lucrative Chinese market, a claim that it has held since 2012.

Apple was able to sell 12 million units of the iPhone 6s in China over 2016, which is equivalent to about 2 percent of all the smartphones sold in the Asian country. However, a local brand was able to sell more units of its flagship device last year.

Apple Loses No. 1 Spot To Oppo

Selling 12 million units of a single model in China is an amazing achievement by itself, but Apple's iPhone 6s fell well short of being the best-selling smartphone in the country for 2016.

The distinction goes to the Oppo R9, the flagship smartphone of Chinese brand Oppo Electronics. The Oppo R9 sold almost 17 million units in 2016, which is equivalent to a market share of about 4 percent.

Apple's loss of the top spot in the Chinese smartphone market was reported by Counterpoint Research, which added that 2016 is the first year since 2012 that the best-selling smartphone in China is not made by Apple.

Counterpoint Research said that the demand for the new iPhone 7 in the fourth quarter of last year somewhat offset the double-digit negative growth that Apple was posting over 2016. However, the company still remains vulnerable in the Chinese market, the research firm said, especially with the substantial upgrades that this year's iPhone release is expected to feature in terms of both design and specifications.

Chinese Smartphone Market Report

Apple posted a 21 percent decline in growth last year compared to 2015, with fellow global smartphone brand Samsung posting a similar decrease but only at 5 percent.

Only five brands booked positive growth for full-year 2016 compared to the previous year, namely Oppo, Vivo, Gionee, Huawei, and Meizu. Oppo leads the charge among these brands with a massive 109 percent growth, with Vivo coming in second with 78 percent growth. Gionee and Huawei both posted growth of 21 percent, while Meizu grew by 18 percent.

Combined, these five brands captured 58 percent of the Chinese smartphone market share, with Oppo claiming 18.3 percent of the market share in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to only 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Huawei still held the biggest market share over the full year at 16.4 percent, increasing from 14.3 percent in 2015. However, Oppo is in close second at 15.5 percent, compared to 7.8 percent in 2015. Apple, meanwhile, held only a 10.4 market share in 2016 compared to 14.3 percent in 2015, good for fifth place, while Samsung was only able to achieve a 6.9 percent market share in 2016 compared to 7.7 percent in 2015 for sixth place.

Will The iPhone 8 Bring Apple Back To The Top In China?

Without an official announcement yet from Apple, it is unclear if this year's iPhone will have what it takes to allow the company to reclaim its spot of having the top-selling smartphone in China.

There have been many rumors regarding the upcoming smartphone, including wireless charging technology that will be developed in-house by Apple, facial recognition instead of Touch ID, and a stainless steel chassis instead of aluminum.

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