As many as one in two Android handsets sold this year could be from a leading Chinese brand as companies like Huawei have finally convinced consumers that their handsets are as much about top-notch features and innovation as they are value for money.
In 2015, according to TrendForce data, 40% of the total 1.239 billion smartphones that shipped globally were built by Chinese companies. It was the year, thanks in no small part to Huawei's Nexus 6P and the high-profile OnePlus 2, that Chinese phone companies proved they can deliver quality and value for money in equal measure.
Apple and Samsung may have held onto their positions as the world's most popular phone brands, but the success of Huawei and Lenovo over 2015 meant that two Chinese brands occupied top-five slots and seven Chinese brands in total featured in the top 10.
And this trend is expected to continue into 2016 to the point where if a consumer is looking to upgrade or buy a new Android handset over the next 12 months, there's a 50% chance that it will be from a Chinese brand.
"Chinese vendors together shipped 539 million units in 2015, while Samsung and Apple together shipped a total of 547 million units," said TrendForce smartphone analyst Avril Wu. "In 2016, TrendForce expects Chinese vendors to take around 45% of the global market share, with their shipments exceeding the combined shipments of Samsung and Apple."
According to TrendForce, Huawei in particular is expected to really make its mark in the year ahead. The Nexus 6P is considered the best Nexus handset yet and the direct Google tie-in, along with a serious focus on research and development -- Huawei makes its own premium processors -- and intelligent advertising has helped the company become the world's third largest smartphone maker, overtaking Lenovo, owner of the Motorola brand, in the process.
Huawei saw a 45% surge in demand for its phones in 2015, shipping a record 108 million handsets as a result. However, it has set itself the target of 130 million for 2016.
And now that Chinese companies have proved they can match the best of the rest in terms of quality and value, the resulting competition should mean good news for consumers and lead to long overdue innovation in the handset market. How much innovation won't be clear until February when the Mobile World Congress opens its doors to the press and public and the first flagship handsets of the year make their debuts.