Worldwide smartphone sales to end users recorded the slowest growth rate since 2013 in the second quarter of 2015, but still increased 13.5% year-on-year to 330 million units, according to Gartner.
"While demand for lower-cost 3G and 4G smartphones continued to drive growth in emerging markets, overall smartphone sales remained mixed region by region in the second quarter of 2015," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.
Emerging Asia Pacific (excluding China), Eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa were the fastest-growing regions, driven by good performance from Chinese and local vendors.
On the other hand, sales in China — which represented 30% of global sales — fell for the first time year-on-year with a 4% decline.
“China has reached saturation — its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers," said Gupta. "Beyond the lower-end phone segment, the appeal of premium smartphones will be key for vendors to attract upgrades and to maintain or grow their market share in China."
Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung's premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple's large-screen iPhones. Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3% in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.
Huawei recorded the highest sales growth rate of 46.3%, thanks to strong overseas sales and 4G smartphone sales in China.
iPhone sales increased 36%, which helped Apple gain 2.4 percentage points in market share. Apple recorded strong iPhone replacements in both emerging and mature markets — and particularly in China. Total iPhone sales in China grew 68% to 11.9 million units.
In the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android's global share was affected by the weak performance of China in the second quarter of 2015 and the strong performance in China of Apple, which has taken share from Android for the last three quarters.