back to article We don't need another hero: Huawei overtakes Apple – even without a big-hitter

Huawei surpassed Apple for two months running this summer to be the world’s no 2 phone brand by volume behind Samsung, according to box counters Counterpoint Research. No Huawei phone is in the firm’s Top 10 devices, however, indicating the breadth of its portfolio, and its preference to hedge its fortunes across "Lite" and " …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    It would be nice to see a YoY comparison but however you look at it, that's a precipitous decline this year for Apple. Apple has a huge and loyal installed base, a large part of which is likely to buy whatever they next release even as upgrade fatigue sets in with everyone else (just replaced one second-hand S5 with another).

    A geographic breakdown would be interesting to see whether the changes are predominantly in new markets where, for example, Apple is less well-represented, or whether some I-Phone users are indeed switching.

    1. Spotswood

      True, but I believe this can be largely attributed to the upcoming release of the new iPhone X or Edition or whatever.

      I've got a feeling this new iPhone is going to set all time sales records, if not by volume, surely by revenue.

      I anticipate this to be the biggest iPhone launch since iPhone 4. That was the last time I went out of my way to secure one on launch day. This year, you'll see me in the queue... Because you can be sure of one thing: if you don't preorder or queue, it will be a lengthy wait for you.

      1. Naselus

        Doubt it.

        Apple's problem is they're all about flagships at a time when flagships are dying. When a <$200 phone is fast enough and actually capable of looking half-decent doing it, a lot of the point of the high-end Sammy/Apple lines disappears, and they can't justify the premium anymore.

        This is corroborated outside Appleland, too, since Samsung's flagships have been undergoing heavy market share erosion at the same time; the difference is that Samsung have umpteen lower-end lines that are picking up those fleeing flagships and moving down the market. Apple's 'budget' models cost more than some other company's flagships, and while they do have the in-built fanboi market who would buy a warmed-over dogturd if it had an apple logo on it, they're an increasingly tiny fraction of the market.

        Most people buying iPhones aren't doing so as much from brand loyalty to Apple as they are based on the phone's general superiority to low-end competition, which used to be worth the extra 300 bucks. Increasingly, for the person who just wants to take phone calls, answer email and play Angry Birds 37, there's no reason to dump the better part of a thousand dollars anymore. The mid- and low-end ranges from Huawei are the ones benefiting from it, which is what these figures are showing us.

        1. Blank Reg

          I just recently I saw a new, unlocked quad-core Android phone for < $100. Sure it's an off brand and only has 1Gb of ram, but at least it had a microSD slot, something Apple still refuses to support since it would cut in to their price gouging.

        2. Eugene Norman

          I mean doubt it all you want, but theres clearly a super cycle on the cards for Apple this year, pretty much nobody denies that.

      2. anchovylover

        Yeah, this isn't anything new. The anticipation of a new model usually drives down sales in the preceding months. With Huawei, I'm not surprised at all with their early success. I'm on my second Huawei phone, the Mate 9 and it is an absolute beast. I'm waiting for their new tablet range to hit Australia to probably grab one.

        1. Poncey McPonceface

          Another v. happy Mate 9 owner here. I got got it for the following combo: USB-C comms _and_ Galileo satellite positioning. When I got it there were only six phones globally that had this combo. All were dauntingly expensive bar the Mate 9 which was still pricey enough but luckily I got an upgrade offer which distributed the cost over 24 months. (I know, I know – penny wise, pound foolish). I see today that there are seventeen with this combo:

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Curious why that would be a factor in your purchase decision.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        True, but I believe this can be largely attributed to the upcoming release of the new iPhone X or Edition or whatever.

        This is why YoY comparison is required. I suspect the drop is larger than for the same period last year but I'd like to see my hunch backed up by the numbers.

        You obviously enjoying queuing for the latest shiny shiny and good luck to you: it's your money. This year I spent a small fortune on a new MacBook but have never owned and no intention of owning and I-Phone. My second, second-hand S5 does me just fine: waterproof, large screen, MHL, infrared controller, SD-card, Miracast, … all things that I have made use of since I got it.

      4. Fiddler on the roof

        And it would be a tragedy if one were to not have the latest device before everyone else. One would look an absolute idiot sitting in Starbucks without the latest piece of Apple shiney :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Huawei has yet to even make inroads into Europe and the US, and already P2.

      Apple phones are top dollar and underperforming compared to much cheaper offerings. End users are seeing this, voting with their wallets and leaving in droves.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Apple phones are top dollar and underperforming compared to much cheaper offerings.

        To be fair Apple's phones are usually among the best when it comes to performance, especially GPU. But on mobile phones oomph is less important than screen size and memory. Apple currently charges excessively for onboard storage. But this will give them room for price cuts if things like Samsung's proposed SD-card replacement come on stream: removable storage with nearly the speed of onboard but at a fraction of the price.

      2. Eugene Norman

        Nobdy is defecting. The Apple ecosystem is solid. There are literally no defections.

        In any case the cost of a phone is its depreciation over the years you have it, not its upfront cost. Most people will get money from the old iPhones but nothing from their old cheap Androids, which they have to buy every year.

    3. Hans 1

      Apple has a huge and loyal installed base, a large part of which is likely to buy whatever they next release even as upgrade fatigue sets in

      Nope, Apple has this strategy to make your ancient phone crawl to a halt if you keep it updated ... the wife finally gave up her BB10 device because Whatsapp was no longer supported and got the 5S (that nobody wanted in the household) ... 9 months later, she begs me for a new phone ... the 5S she has is sluggish, the screen size is a joke, network connectivity, as in 3G/LTE at her workplace, works sometimes, often only after two or three reboots ... she had no such issues with the z30, and no, her office has not moved, nor have the LTE relays outside ... maybe she is holding it wrong, I dunno ...

      Anyway, an Apple fanboy in her situation would upgrade to the latest model ... she now wants a 5" phone that can do whatsapp and take decent picks .... so ... if anybody has a preference ... ideally 64 Gb internal memory, good camera, newer Android version, good CPU/GPU and 3Gb RAM min ...

      1. Eugene Norman

        The 5s? What Android device works after that long?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          "The 5s? What Android device works after that long?"
          Samsung's Galaxy Note 3. Mine has a 32 GB SD card in it full of music. Never had an iPhone, nor ever likely to.

          Mine's the coat with the Note 3 in the pocket.

          1. David Tallboys

            Note 3 - so good I bought another one second hand a few weeks ago.

            But I've still got my iPhone 4s from about 2011 and use it when I want a shirt pocket phone. I just have all calls forwarded from the Note, then change back when happy to have Note in trouser cargo pocket.

            But then I still like Microsoft Works 4.5 - which I found is OK on Windows 8.1.

            Time for my medicine.

            Oh, another thing. I did actually buy a Linux machine (Dell with Ubuntu) as a result of threads on El Reg, but can't be bothered to do more than use it as an internet machine. Sorry, but I made a small effort to be non MS..

            PS, still got a Nokia 6310i which I put a sim in occasionally.


        2. cd

          Still using an HTC Incredible from 2009, running CM 7. Only smartphone I've owned.

      2. Daniel B.

        @Hans 1

        Interesting story.

        I've got a 5s as well, and it still works pretty well; I got mine in 2015 as I didn't want the monster sized screens. It still works, the only caveat being the 16Gb storage (should've gone for 64Gb) but other than that, it works. And yes, I've got the latest iOS version installed.

        Compare to my wife's Huawei, which is sluggish and keeps crashing even though it's just a year old.

        Honestly the only ones I haven't seen go bad are the Samsung phones. Most cheap android devices just stop working as intended after the first year.

      3. Jon B

        Phone recommendation

        Xiaomi Redmi 4X Pro..

        1. Naich

          Re: Phone recommendation

          > Xiaomi Redmi 4X Pro..

          Won't work with the O2 network.

    4. Eugene Norman

      not really. it drops off mid-summer most years as a percentage of the total market, and rises significantly every November-March. This year it will reach 30-40% of the world wide market for a few months and decline to the teens next summer. Same as it ever was. In terms of the installed base Apple in fact keeps growing at a higher level than Android phones, which is why services ( mostly app downloads) keep growing

  2. GregC

    I anticipate this to be the biggest iPhone launch since iPhone 4. That was the last time I went out of my way to secure one on launch day. This year, you'll see me in the queue... Because you can be sure of one thing: if you don't preorder or queue, it will be a lengthy wait for you.

    Out of curiosity (I'm totally out of touch with what's rumoured to be in the new Apple stuff), what are you expecting to be so special about this years iphone to make it a particularly big deal?

    1. Naselus

      Honestly not sure why he's predicting it either, since most of the 'new' features allegedly being added are pretty old hat. Edge-to-Edge screen and wifi charging have been Samsung staples for years, and even bit players like LG are ahead of Apple's game here (and are charging about half the price Apple seem to want to stick on the 8's).

      Of course, they might surprise us by actually having something new in there, but if so they've managed to keep it incredibly quiet. Nothing much coming out of the rumour mill is particularly impressive, or even new really.

    2. Dave 126

      People are expecting the iPhone to have a fancy screen with a cutout (a la Rubin's Essential Phone), and some fancy AR tricks. The latter will be more mainstream in Android phones next year, with active and passive 3D scanning DSPs and sensors from Qualcomm amongst others, plus software from Google ditto. Apple are likely to enjoy better developer support initially for these features, because their ARkit will roll out to a larger base of existing devices, even though they don't have specialised silicon inside.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      As usual I believe the list contains everything except perhaps a cure for cancer. Maybe this time it's different and it even does that as well.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do Huawei offer security updates to their Android devices?

    I had a couple of their phones in the past (KitKat) and never got any updates.

    1. HausWolf

      That is one of the reasons I recently switched to an iPhone, Apple updates their products far longer than most android devices get updates. And that includes security updates, not just shiny features. Now if they would just put a damn micro SD hole in them.

    2. John70

      Android update cycle is buy a new phone.

  4. Dave 126

    Andrew was on Radio 4 today, and he has a nice voice for radio. Radio 4 has also aired two documentaries hosted by Stephen Fry this week too (yesterday about Australian English, today Mental Health), so maybe one of the controllers has a sense of humour. ;)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple is doomed

    Dump your stock because they will be filing for Chapter 11 next week.

    Well, that's what the doomongers are saying now and from memory it seems they say the same at this time every year.

    The USA is Apple's stronghold. They will buy the new phone in their droves and to hell with the rest of the world.

    No matter, there will be plenty of iPhone 7's hitting the pawn and secondhand shops in a few weeks. You don't have to be a sheeple and buy a new one every year.

    1. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Apple is doomed

      Doomed maybe, but they probably still make more money from selling their phones than any of the rest. Apple's customer base are happy to pay what ever premium is demanded. Also come Christmas Apple will probably have a really good month as lots of shiny things are bought as presents.

      I can't remember whether it was Hewlett or Packard who famously said that any fool can buy market share, it's the profit that counts.

      I've no intention of ever buying an iPhone, but you've got to admire their ability to gouge large piles of cash out of their enraptured customers.

      1. David Tallboys

        Re: Apple is doomed

        Sales are vanity, profit is sanity.

    2. Eugene Norman

      Re: Apple is doomed

      No they will be handed onto familuy and keep working for years, increasing the installed base, now at a billion or so.

  6. defiler

    Recently got an Honor 8 Pro

    I have to say, it's an astounding phone. Very, very quick. Huge, bright, clear screen. Got 3 days out of a charge. I'm not surprised they're doing well.

    My wife picked up a Samsung Galaxy S8, and I think I prefer mine. The S8 has a *slightly* bigger screen in a *slightly* smaller case, but I'm not a fan of the screen-to-the-edge thing. And I can shove 2 SIMs in mine, which seems to be lacking from the Samsung lineup as sold in the UK.

    1. shade82000

      Re: Recently got an Honor 8 Pro

      The 8 Pro is an awesome phone ... I got one a week ago to replace my Oppo Find 7 - also a solid phone by 2014 standards but it fell out of my pocket on the same day that I told someone I have never had a broken screen before :-(

      Only needed to charge it once on the first day and it's still at 65%. The signal where I work is non-existent so I enable aeroplane mode each morning. So obviously my time between recharges is not a fair comparison against other phones, but I do listen to music on it most of the day and it's holding up really well.

      I didn't go for the 9 because they seem to be decreasing the screen size with each release and for me the slightly larger screen on the 8 was a winner.

      Good luck to Huawei and all the other companies who can produce great phones with honest price tags.

      They do have rounded corners though, I wonder how long before apple dispatch their lawyers?

  7. 45RPM Silver badge

    Their phones might be very nice, and very good, but I have my doubts that they’re very secure - even without including the mandatory Google snoopage. So far, Microsoft and Apple have proven themselves concerned with privacy when it comes to looking after your data - Google notsomuch (which isn’t actually a criticism of Google - the OS is free, so they have to make their money some how). Chinese designed kit, if it takes off in the west, is a golden opportunity for data mining which could go far beyond anything done today. That’s okay too - you pays your money and you makes your choice.

    My point is just that quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder - and sales volume is no indication of quality (or, indeed, of profit).

    BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar et al don’t outsell Ford or Chevrolet. But which would you rather have? (again, that isn’t to say that Ford don’t make some decent cars).

    1. Hans 1

      again, that isn’t to say that Ford don’t make some decent cars

      Ford made some decent cars ...the last, iirc, the 1968 Shelby ... as for Chevvy, their cars in Europe are crap, dunno about the Chevvys in the US, though ...Volvo, yeah, well, they could do with a design team that has quit LSD as their cars look weird, always have, again, imho ... Jaguar, well, reliability is not their thing ... BMW could do with some adjustments to their seating ... I always have pain under my knees after long trips in BMW's as a front passenger, not as a driver, so I have to seat in the back ... YES, I have tried playing with the seat controls ... I happen to have long legs ...

      Some Audi's and Mercedes' are pretty decent, if you ask me ...

  8. marky_boi

    Can't give an iPhone away

    In the technical team I work for, the boss can't even give one away to convince us to change from Android to Apple for testing. All of us have suffered from the Apple walled garden lock-in and don't want to go back there. Even the inducement of a new iWatch when they turn up convinced no one to change. Seen the same thing in real life too, "too costly" is why they turned their backs......

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Can't give an iPhone away

      @marky_boi - I know this tune, you’re a bot aren’t you? Either that or you’re just a wee bit clueless and you enjoy talking out of your hat (which I’m sure is very funky, and worn backwards as you hoon around in your bewinged Corsa).

      The truth is that, as far as your data is concerned, Apple’s garden isn’t so much walled as fenced - with one of those cute little picquet fences for flower borders that can be stepped over ever so easily. You can sync your appointments, contacts, email with Google (or any other service you care to mention), and export any documents you create in Apple’s own Office suite in more portable formats - or just use tools from third parties in the first place.

      Even software isn’t very walled. Sure, most people will have to use Apple’s various stores for buying software - but given that Apple curates its garden (not hugely well, given the amount of crap on there - but still) to ensure that Malware doesn’t sneak in, and the relative incidence of Malware on Android to Malware on iOS, I’d say that that’s a bloody good thing. And if, as any good geek would, you want software from off the AppStore then you can either install PastryKit framework apps (no need for the AppStore, no curation), or install OpenSource apps that you build yourself using Xcode (which is free) and of which there are a multitude. Jailbreaking isn’t required in either case.

      SO yes, I totally get that there are excellent reasons for choosing Android - but you can cite those without having to make up a load of fake bullcrap. Assuming that you’re knowledgable enough, and actually have some good reasons…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't give an iPhone away

      And there are places that won't touch an Android phone with a barge pole. YMMV and we need competition in the market. It would be rather boring if is was only Android or only iOS now wouldn't it.

      Personally, I got burned by both HTC and Samsung when it came to getting updates. One supposed update from Samsung wouldn't apply because of the network I was on. Changed the SIM and wonderously, magically, the update applied.

      I'm too old to be half arsed to mess around with phones these days so I've gone for a used iPhone 6s.

      It also means that I can carry on with my aim of not having "Be Evil" Google in my life.

      1. Hans 1

        Re: Can't give an iPhone away

        It also means that I can carry on with my aim of not having "Be Evil" Google in my life.

        Get CyanogenMod, no evil Google, updates pretty fast after release ...

        As for "Be Evil" .... exactly how is Apple less evil than Google ? iCloud, anyone ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Hans 1

          In what way does iCloud make Apple as evil as Google? You don't have to use iCloud you know, it is not mandatory.

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Can't give an iPhone away

        @AC - It would be rather boring if is was only Android or only iOS now wouldn't it.

        It would be worse than boring - it would be dangerous. Think back to the 1990s / early 2000s when Microsoft had a de facto monopoly on just about everything OS related. Linux was in its infancy and Apple was busy dying. You had precisely one choice - Windows - and it wasn't a happy one. You bought Windows, and you got something which was insecure and which rode roughshod through established standards (or tried to).

        Android is a great OS, although it might not be the great OS for you. iOS is a great OS, although again it might not work for you. Even Windows for phones was a great OS - before Microsoft deep sixed it. Competition is great - without competition you'll get shit.

        @Hans 1 - How is Apple less evil than Google?

        Well perhaps Evil is in the eye of the beholder too. But Apple makes its money by selling hardware. Google makes its money by selling advertising. Because of these very different business models, Apple doesn't need to grep the contents of iCloud for any scavengable data which it can sell or use - which, from a privacy perspective, suits me fine. Google, on the other hand, needs to and does scavenge whatever it can from the data you store on its servers (which may suit you fine - it's a valid option).

        This means, of course, that some of Google's facilities (OK Google, for example) are more advanced that the Apple counterparts - Apple spends time focussing on security, for example, and sandboxing processes (even Siri) so that your data doesn't leak out. Because Google's business model is predicated on not doing this, it can allow its services to communicate much more naturally and freely, providing an apparently more flexible and advanced service - provided of course that you don't have any secrets that you'd like to keep, well, secret.

    3. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Can't give an iPhone away

      @marky_boi - the boss can't even give one away to convince us to change from Android to Apple for testing

      Just noticed this gem. If this really is true (and this claim makes me doubt that it is), you’d be on a performance improvement plan, all of you, as quick as winking. If you’re employed in software development then you’re required to produced, good, well tested, software - regardless of whether you like the platform you’re developing for or not. It shouldn’t be the boss’s job to convince you to do yours - a good software developer should be responsible enough and take enough pride to do the job well.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't give an iPhone away

      *donning asbestos underpants*

      I'm not surprised that the technical team is less than thrilled with iOS. This actually mirrors my own observations fairly closely. Just about every geek I know viscerally hates the iOS "walled garden", because it frustrates the "hands-on imperative", their ability to get at the device's innards and make it behave as they see fit. I wholly acknowledge this, yet rarely have seen how the behavior of iOS frustrates a business's requirements for a mobile device. It may be impossible to configure an iPhone with a custom, animated waifu theme, but the ability to do so is not usually a business requirement.

      So, why are many businesses leery of Android and what's their beef? In my experience, it largely boils down to BYOD support and security. Even if the helpdesk technicians choose Android as their personal device, they usually prefer that their required support variables are limited to three versions of iOS rather than dozens of Android OS/hardware combinations. InfoSec managers also usually prefer iOS because of vulnerabilities in the Android OS and the difficulty of most hardware to get timely security updates. Credit where credit is due: Google has made some impressive strides in improving Android security in Oreo, but the effectiveness of those recent changes still needs to be proven. And the less that's said about the current state of Google Play, the better.

      So, what's my point? You and your technical team colleagues may be absolutely justified in your choice of mobile device for your personal use. Nevertheless, it may be a mistake to assume that your personal preferences automatically translate to business requirements. With on-prem departments being gutted by cloud migration and outsourcing, the last thing any IT Department needs is to be branded by business stakeholders as recalcitrant.

      Pick your battles, and make sure they really matter.

  9. ecarlseen

    Interesting, but is it important?

    We see a lot of companies try to buy their way into markets, but staying power depends on profitability. Apple pulls in the overwhelming percentage of profits in the smartphone biz (frequently over 90%, and even surpassing 100% in some quarters due to cumulative losses by competitors), Samsung was making decent money before their Note 7 disaster (not sure where they sit now), and you have niche players like HTC that are doing well enough to stick around. Everyone else is either scraping by or losing money. So the question really should be is Huawei doing well enough to be a long-term player, or are they just a flash in the pan?

  10. pyite42

    They've earned it

    I have had a Mate 8 for about a year now I think, and it is excellent.

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