Revealed: Most popular mobile phones in UAE, GCC
Around 5.38 million mobile phones were sold in the six-member nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the fourth quarter (Q4) of the financial year (FY) 2020, a growth of 8.2 per cent in Q4 2020, as compared to the previous quarter while the UAE accounted for 26.1 per cent, or 1.4 million, of regional mobile phone sales during last quarter of the FY2020.
According to newly released research from International Data Corporation (IDC), the UAE’s mobile phone sales grew in Q4 2020, as compared to the previous year on the back of the strong performance of Apple's new releases and mid-range models from brands like Samsung, Oppo, and Vivo, which were not impacted to the same extent by component shortages.
"Apple enjoyed strong demand for the iPhone 12 series in Q4 2020, while its iPhone 11 series continued to perform well in the region. Shortages in the supply of both the iPhone 12 and certain other models curtailed the maximum growth we could have seen from Apple in Q4 2020,” said Akash Balachandran, a senior research analyst at IDC.
The Q4 saw most GCC countries attempting to return to some state of normality, with borders reopening to regular travel — especially in the UAE, where the vaccine roll-out was beginning to take place in earnest. Although consumer spending remained focused on essentials, there was a release of pent-up demand, particularly for iOS devices.
Regionally, South Korean electronics major Samsung and iPhone maker Apple and Chinese mass-market brand Xiaomi are the most popular mobile phone brands and dominate the UAE and GCC mobile phone markets.
Data showed that Samsung controls 42 per cent market in Q4 2020, followed by Apple (23 per cent), Xiaomi (11 per cent), Huawei ( 8 per cent) and others (16 per cent).
Apple’s release of its iPhone 12 line of devices helped it in a big way to increase its popularity in the GCC as its market share jumped from 15 per cent in Q3 2020 to 23 per cent in Q4 2020.
Smartphone shipments grew 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 4.26m units, while feature phone shipments increased 38.3 per cent to total 1.12 million units. In terms of value, the smartphone market totalled $1.62 billion (b) in Q4 2020, up 39.5 per cent from the previous quarter.
The feature phone market's value grew 22.2 per cent over the same period to reach $19.2m.
IDC said Samsung saw shortages of certain key models, leading to a quarter-on-quarter decline in shipments of 4.1 per cent.
Supply shortages saw Xiaomi also posting a slight 0.9 per cent decline in shipments. The vendor ranked third in both units and value after Samsung and Apple, having effectively taken Huawei's place in the smartphone market, it said.
Not so rosy outlook
IDC predicted that the GCC smartphone market will decline 0.7 per cent in Q1 2021.
"Supply constraints will likely continue to hamper growth in the region due to chipset and component shortages across most smartphone brands in the first half of the year," said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.
"However, with supply returning to normal and with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout expected to significantly reduce the possibility of additional lockdowns and spikes in the viral outbreak cases, the market is set to see growth return toward the second half of the year,” he added.