Ever since Gartner, the market analyst company, started tracking smartphone sales in 2004, there has been a year-on-year increase in sales every quarter.
The South Korean tech giant experienced a year-on-year decline of 3.6 percent, while rival Apple also felt a downturn in iPhone sales of roughly five percent.
While Samsung and Apple remained the top two manufacturers, with market share largely unchanged, at 20.9 percent and 14 percent respectively, 2017 saw Huawei gain on the latter. While the leaders in the market (Samsung and Apple) did see a decline over this time period, others (Huawei and Xiaomi) saw an increase.
Gartner says it's expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018, now that the flagship's delivery cycle has returned to normal.
"Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging APAC and the USA", said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. They were a lack of good "ultra-low-cost" smartphones to entice feature phone owners to switch, and a larger portion of those who are replacing their phones deciding to buy a "quality" phone and keep it for longer.
Despite retaining its top spot as having the greatest market share among consumers, Samsung recorded its own Q4 decline of 3.6% between 2016 and 2017.
He added that while demand for high quality, 4G connectivity and better camera features remained strong, high expectations and few incremental benefits during replacement weakened smartphone sales. About 408 million smartphones were shipped during the quarter, representing a decline of 5.6% from Q4 2016. According to Gartner's Gupta, the later availability of the iPhone X and component shortages its performance was overshadowed. That's because new-phone users tend to re-download their favorite and most-used apps, upgrade apps they haven't updated in a while, and try new apps, particularly those that take advantage of new technological capabilities in newer devices.
Some 407.84 million handsets found a new home in the quarter, equating to a 5.6 per cent slide or 24.29 million fewer phones sold than the prior year.
In operating system market share, Google's Android extended its lead over iOS capturing 85.9% of the market. Huawei came third with 9.8 per cent share market followed by OPPO and Vivo.
"Future growth opportunities for Huawei will reside in winning market share in emerging APAC and the US", said Mr. Gupta. "Increasing sales in Indonesia and other markets in emerging Asia Pacific region will position Xiaomi as a strong global brand", Gupta said.