Kantar suggests the slowed growth rate may in part be down to more price-sensitive consumers waiting for Chinese New Year promotions in early February.
Despite growth slowing to rates last seen in late 2014, Apple remained the most popular smartphone brand in China — taking a quarter share (25 per cent) of sales.
According to Kantar, the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 6 were the best-selling smartphones in urban China.
This time last year the market watcher recorded Apple taking a record quarter share of the world’s largest smartphone market. So Cupertino has at least maintained its share on the year ago period, at a time when the Chinese mobile market overall is growing at a reduced rate. Last summer, for example, analyst Gartner noted the region was showing signs of saturation and slowing growth in mobile.
The second most popular smartphone brand in China — Huawei — is closing the gap with Apple, with Kantar pegging it as capturing 24.3 per cent of sales over the same period. While third placed Xiaomi, which earlier this year reported failing short of its ambitious sales targets, dropped 10.2 percentage points over the same period.
According to Kantar, Huawei also put in a strong performance in Europe, remaining the second most popular Android band and growing its share to 14 per cent in the three months ending January 2016, up from 5 per cent in the year ago period. The Chinese OEM is expected to unveil a new flagship smartphone early next month, on April 6.