The global launch of the iPhone 7 on Friday is crucial to Apple’s fortunes in China, but both it and its biggest rival Samsung, hit by a recall over exploding batteries, are struggling in the face of upstart local competitors.
The US and South Korean firms were relegated to fourth and fifth place respectively in the Asian giant’s smartphone market in the first half of this year, according to consultancy Canalys.
Ahead of them came three Chinese firms, leader Huawei with a 16 percent share, then two companies little known elsewhere, Vivo and Oppo.
Apple faces “a lot of challenges and pressures” in China from local manufacturers who are “developing medium- to high-end handsets and offer a lot of flagship products”, said Canalys China analyst Jessie Ding.
The iPhone 7 — which comes with an improved camera, a water resistant body and minus an earphone jack — “doesn’t have many innovative features”, she said, pointing out that its double camera function was available on a Huawei smartphone six months ago, and it lacks wireless charging capabilities.