In a recent report by Gartner, an interesting shift in the smartphone market landscape has emerged. Smartphone sales, typically on a consistent upward trajectory, saw a rare decline in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to the findings, handset manufacturers witnessed a 5.6 percent drop in sales compared to the previous year, marking the first instance of an annual downturn since Gartner commenced monitoring the industry in 2004.

This evolving trend signifies a changing consumer behavior where individuals are making more deliberate choices when it comes to upgrading their phones. Rather than a straightforward shift from feature phones to smartphones, consumers are opting for enhanced feature phones or holding onto their current smartphones for longer durations. Anshul Gupta, an analyst at Gartner, highlighted this noteworthy transition, emphasizing the impact of the availability of premium smartphone models and a shift in consumer preferences towards longevity and quality.

The fluctuating dynamics within the smartphone market present intriguing insights into evolving consumer preferences and industry trends.The era of smartphone dominance is facing a slowdown as sales numbers took a dip for the first time in history in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to Gartner, handset makers witnessed a 5.6 percent decline in smartphone sales compared to the previous year. This decline can be attributed to various factors such as the lack of innovation in the ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphone segment, leading customers to opt for higher-quality feature phones instead. Additionally, existing smartphone users are holding onto their devices for longer periods, further impacting sales.


  1. Why did smartphone sales experience a decline in the fourth quarter of 2017?

    • Smartphone sales dipped due to a lack of innovation in the ‘ultra-low-cost’ segment and customers opting for higher-quality feature phones.
  2. What factors are contributing to the decrease in smartphone upgrades?

    • Existing smartphone users are upgrading to higher-end models and holding onto their devices for longer periods, impacting sales.
  3. Which companies are still holding strong in the smartphone market despite the decline?

    • Samsung retained the top spot in the market, followed by Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.
  4. How did Apple perform in terms of iPhone sales during this period?

    • Apple experienced a 5 percent decline in iPhone sales, with the launch of the iPhone X failing to boost sales significantly.
  5. Which smartphone vendors saw growth in unit sales during this period?

    • Huawei and Xiaomi were the only vendors to witness growth in unit sales, according to Gartner.
  6. What are the market shares of Samsung, Apple, and Huawei in the smartphone industry?

    • Samsung maintained a market share of 21 percent, Apple around 14 percent, and Huawei’s market share grew to 9.8 percent.
  7. How did Android and iOS operating systems fare in the market share battle?

    • Android expanded its lead to 86 percent, while Apple’s iOS remained at approximately 14 percent.


The decline in smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 signals a shift in consumer preferences towards higher-quality feature phones and a reluctance to upgrade to newer smartphone models. Companies like Samsung, Apple, and Huawei continue to dominate the market, with varying performances in sales growth. As the smartphone market evolves, innovation and differentiation will be key factors for vendors to attract consumers and drive sales. Stay informed about the latest trends in the smartphone industry to make informed purchasing decisions.

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