China’s smartphone industry is set for a tough 2023 and is not expected to see meaningful growth until 2024 amid global supply chain disruption and weak consumer spending at home, analysts have warned. Total smartphone shipments in China may have shrunk 10 per cent in 2022 to 285 million units, according to a forecast by industry research firm IDC. Headwinds will remain strong in 2023, according to Will Wong, a Singapore-based IDC analyst. Buying a new phone will not be a priority for people this year, with the more affluent choosing to travel overseas with pandemic restrictions lifted while less affluent consumers limit their spending, Wong explained. “The Chinese smartphone market is only expected to see full-year growth in 2024,” he added. China’s latest market data showed that November, traditionally a peak season for phone buying thanks to the Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, was a dud. The country’s smartphone shipments in November slumped 36 per cent year on year to 22.2 million units, according to a report by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a scientific research institute under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Huawei runs out of advanced in-house-designed chips for smartphones: report In the first 11 months, sales were down 23.6 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year, according to the CAICT report, published on Wednesday. The 2022 November smartphone sales figure was “the worst November sales since 2015”, according to a separate report by consulting firm CINNO Research last Friday. It also marked the tenth consecutive year-on-year decline since February 2022, according to the CINNO report. “Despite the Singles’ Day and other promotional activities, the market is far less enthusiastic than in previous years,” CINNO analyst Charley Zhou said in the report. All top five smartphone brands, led by California-based Apple with 4.8 million units, experienced sharp declines in November, despite offering their steepest discounts in the Singles’ Day campaign. Vivo, ranked fifth in November, was the worst hit with a 36.2 per cent slump to 2.3 million units sold in the month. CINNO Research also estimated that total sales for the full year of 2022 will be between 250 million to 260 million units, which would be the worst yearly sales since 2015. Slowing consumer demand has already prompted major smartphone vendor Xiaomi Corp to conduct a new round of lay-offs affecting nearly 10 per cent of its workforce, after cutting more than 900 jobs earlier this year. The company also announced the departure of group president Wang Xiang, along with two of the company’s co-founders. Apart from demand, the domestic supply chain of smartphones has also been rocked in the past year. In 2022 an outbreak of the Omicron variant in Shanghai led to a draconian lockdown across April and May, which partially sealed off neighbouring provinces that house a lot of smartphone production. Lei Jun says Apple is still the benchmark as Xiaomi unveils new smartphones Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group ’s plant in Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province, has been hit by severe disruptions including worker protests that turned violent and the exodus of tens of thousands of employees because of a Covid-19 outbreak at the facility. China abruptly scrapped almost all Covid-19 controls in December, but this has been followed by a surge in Covid-19 outbreaks and a deepening labour shortage in the supply chain. “Industrial production and market consumption will take time to recover gradually, and the impact [of Covid policies] is expected to continue through the first half of 2023,” CINNO’s Zhou said.