High prices mean when it comes to choosing their next phone, Europeans are thinking small

Across the biggest smartphone markets in Europe, smaller manufacturers are on the rise.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor
Huawei is making progress in Europe. Image: CNET

There might be little change among Europe's favourite smartphone OSes, but smaller manufacturers are carving out a growing slice of the continent's mobile market.

According to researchers Kantar Worldpanel, less well-known mobile makers are on the rise in Europe's larger economies. Across France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK, Huawei now holds three percent of the smartphone market, with sales rising by 123 percent since last year. The Chinese manufacturer has done best in Germany and Spain, where its market share was five percent for the three months to April.

Over the quarter, relative unknown Wiko — a French Android maker which focuses on the affordable smartphone market, offering an octacore mobile for around €350 unlocked — also made progress. In its home market, it now has an eight percent market share, and also saw triple digit growth, Kantar said.

"Across Europe there is an accelerating trend of fragmentation in the handset market as smaller brands gain real traction. Established brands like Motorola and Sony are showing resurgence and newcomers to the European market such as Huawei and Wiko are challenging the established names," Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said.

According to Sunnebo, the trend for operators to ask consumers to pay more of the device cost upfront – rather than absorbing it into monthly tariffs as they've done historically – means that would-be buyers are "shopping around to find cheaper alternatives". As a result, they're turning to less established brands who can offer all the smartphone functionality buyers want but at a lower price.

In the five main smartphone markets, Android is still by far the dominant operating system, with over 72.4 percent market share. iOS is a distant second at 17.5 percent, while Windows Phone has 8.4 percent.

The UK is bucking the trend somewhat, however, with Android on around 58 percent of the market, iOS on 30 percent, and Windows Phone with 9.5 percent. It's the lowest share for Android among the big five markets and the highest for iOS.

Windows Phone though has made most progress in Italy, where it has notched up 11.8 percent share.

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