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Chinese iPhone sales may be decelerating at faster pace than expected

Apple's iPhone 15

New figures from China's authorities says that iPhone sales were down one third in February 2024, much more than it dropped in the same period in 2023.

Recent reports that sales of the iPhone is now stabilizing in China were based on extrapolations for the whole of 2024 and even 2025. Nonetheless, new figures for February 2023 from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) show a marked decline year over year.

According to a note to investors from JP Morgan analysts, as seen by AppleInsider, February's iPhone sales were down 33% compared to February 2023. The decline from January to February was 56%.

There is always a seasonal decline as peak iPhone holiday sales are done, and the device nears the halfway point before its replacement is launched. JP Morgan, however, says that typically this seasonal decline is in the range of 20% month over month.

The analysts do think that there is what is called digestion in the market, however. This is when there has been great volatility which is now settling down.

In this case, JP Morgan sees one issue as being the glut of smartphones left in inventory, which should clear. Then CAICT figures show broadly equivalent declines for local Chinese smartphone brands.

Even so, JP Morgan believes that there are concerns about the sustainability of what recovery the market has appeared to be showing. There are signs of recovery, though, as JP Morgan itself recently reported.