A statement from Counterpoint said shipments in the third quarter reached 386.8 million units, with the top 10 players grabbing 79% of the market. This left more than 600 brands to fight for the remainder.
Counterpoint associate director Tarun Pathak said: “Despite the decline in its home market, Chinese brands OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi reached new highs in smartphone shipments in a quarter.
"Huawei was also able to maintain its 50+ million smartphone shipments and retain its second position in 3Q 2018. This suggests that the companies are reducing their dependence on their home country. The brands will further expand outside China as they push into Asia Pacific countries and Europe.”
Apple revenues grew 29% even though iPhone shipments remained flat on a year-on-year basis. The average selling price for an iPhone was a record US$793.
Pathak said this was the first time the global smartphone market had declined for three consecutive quarters.
"It can be attributed to a weakening demand in developed markets like China, USA and Western Europe which account for almost half of smartphone sales globally. The lack of meaningful innovation and improvement in smartphone build quality is leading to lengthening replacement cycles," he said.
Emerging markets like India showed double-digit growth, but this could not compensate for the decline in developed markets. Analyst Shobhit Srivastava said: "The growth in the emerging markets is led by Chinese smartphone players that are venturing out of China to capture sales.
"The offerings from these OEMs have intensified competition and many features and capabilities common among flagship models are now progressively diffusing through to the lower price bands.
"This is also affecting local smartphone players in the emerging economies, which are struggling to maintain a foothold.”
Analyst firm Canalys recently released figures that showed smartphone shipments were down by 7% in the third quarter, while an IDC report said shipments in the same quarter showed a year-on-year decline of 6%.