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Smartphone Market: Not Dead Yet

Is smartphone market dying? Not according to IDC, which released new figures today that indicate the smartphone market is actually growing.

Phone makers shipped 347.4 million handsets worldwide in the first quarter of 2017—a 4.3 percent increase from the same period last year—which IDC Vice President Ryan Reith says "further prove[s] that the smartphone industry is not dead and that growth still exists."

IDC Smartphone shipment data Q1 2017

"There is no question that 2016 was a pivotal year for the industry as growth dipped to low single digits for the first time," he added. "However, we believe the industry will show some rebound in 2017, and the strong first quarter results certainly support this argument."

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This year's flagships, including the Huawei P10 and Samsung Galaxy S8, "show that innovation is still possible," according to Reith, who also pointed to whatever Apple has up its sleeve for this fall. "Despite any formal announcements from Apple, it is safe to say the industry is highly anticipating what comes from this year's iPhone announcements."

A handful of Chinese phone makers — like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo — drove first quarter growth. Each of those firms has "well outpaced market growth for over a year now," IDC said, adding that "the potential to continue this trend is high."

Samsung led the smartphone market last quarter, shipping 79.2 million units, but remained flat with zero percent year-over-year growth. Apple came in second with shipments reaching 51.6 million units, up slightly from a year earlier. Huawei came in third with 34.2 million units shipped, followed by Oppo with 25.6 million, and Vivo with 18.1 million.

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The Huawei P20 is not coming to the U.S.

Meet the Huawei P20. It’s a pretty nice phone. I played around with it, and I can confirm that it is, indeed, a solid flagship with some suitably over-the-top features — what’s that you say? Three rear-facing cameras?! But all of this is kind of a moot point if you live here in the States. Sure, Huawei’s been having a lot of issues trying to sell its phones in America. In fact, just as I was playing around with the P20, news was breaking that Best Buy was planning to stop selling the company’s phones — it was a bit like finding out your starting pitcher needs Tommy John surgery before opening day. Only with, you know, lots more international espionage and such. Rather than deal with the rigmarole of getting shot down by carriers and retailers this time out, the company is simply making it clear right off the bat that the new flagship just won’t be available here — not through any sort of official channels. And honestly, it’s probably best for Huawei to just focus on those countries that have long stocked its phones — from the look of the FCC reports earlier this week, this situation is going to get worse long before it gets any better. For the rest of the world, there’s plenty to like here. The P20 looks like a cross between the iPhone X and HTC’s latest shiny metal phones. It’s got a 5.8-inch display (6.1 on the P20 Pro) and some crazy camera specs, including three rear lenses, including an eight-megapixel telephoto and 40-megapixel (!) RGP, coupled with a built-in color temperature sensor. There’s still a front-mounted fingerprint sensor and some strange choices, like a 2D face unlock function that makes do with the lack of depth sensing. No pricing or availability at press time, except here in the States, where the latter is just a picture of a big red circle with a line through it.

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