Chinese phone demand plunges as Apple readies costly iPhone 14 launch

Purple Iphone 14 Pro Render
Purple Iphone 14 Pro Render (Image credit: Front Page Tech)

What you need to know

  • Smartphone demand in China has fallen more than a third according to new numbers.
  • It's thought that customers are holding onto their money at a time when COVID-19 continues to impact their lives.
  • Apple is readying its iPhone 14 launch for September and could see demand impacted.

Demand for smartphones across China fell by more than a third in April compared to the same month last year, according to new numbers shared by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. This comes as Apple readies its next iPhone lineup refresh and will be hoping for strong sales in the country.

The WSJ reports that smartphone shipments fell 34% in April with the first four months of the year seeing a reduction of 30% to around 86 million units. This comes after Apple warned recently that the ongoing COVID-19 situation in China could cost it as much as $8 billion this quarter, with many in the country deciding against spending money on luxury items at a time when the country continues to fight the pandemic.

The WSJ reported on one potential iPhone 14 buyer who says she will continue to use an iPhone 12 Pro Max, despite previously upgrading her device annually, because money is tight.

Consumers said they are tightening their purse strings, especially for pricier goods. Zhang Rui, a 43-year-old tech worker in Beijing, said she dropped her plan to buy a new smartphone this year. Ms. Zhang, who uses the iPhone 12 Pro Max and usually updates her device every other year, said she isn't attracted enough by the new models to pay a high price."Cash flow is tight for people due to the pandemic. Are there any smartphone models available that are worth my money?" she said.

That could well be a sentiment expressed globally, with inflation and the geopolitical situation in Europe set to play a part in smartphone demand there, too. While pricing for the new iPhone 14 — set to be the company's best iPhone to date — hasn't yet been confirmed, it's highly unlikely to be less than last year's iPhone 13. In fact, reports suggest that at least some of the new devices will require a costly camera upgrade with Apple likely to pass that cost on to consumers.

Apple is expected to announce its new iPhone 14 lineup in or around September based on previous release cadences.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.