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Global smartphone sales totalled nearly 408 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, down 5.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Gartner. That was the first annual drop in the market since Gartner started tracking the sector in 2004, according Telecompaper. The market researcher blamed the market contraction on a lack of quality low-cost smartphones, to win over feature phone users, as well as a longer replacement cycle for existing smartphone users, as new models offer few major improvements. 
 
In terms of smartphone vendors, Samsung maintained the top position, despite a fall in unit sales. The Korean company took an 18.2 percent share of sales, up from 17.8 percent in Q4 2016 when it tied with Apple. Apple's share rose only 0.1 percent point to 17.9 percent, as it also saw a drop in unit sales. 
 
Huawei grew to almost 44 million phones sold and strengthened its market share to 10.8 percent from 9.4 a year ago. Xiaomi moved into fourth place, nearly doubling its market share to 6.9 percent from 3.6 percent in Q4 2016 after an estimated 79 percent increase in sales. Oppo dropped to fifth place with a 6.3 percent share, up by 0.1 percent points despite a small fall in sales. That leaves a 45 percent share for the other smaller smartphone makers.
 
In 2017 as a whole, smartphone sales to end-users totalled over 1.5 billion units, an increase of 2.7 percent from 2016. Huawei, ranked No. 3 with 9.8 percent share, raised its share in 2017, continuing to gain on Apple (14.0%). At the same time, the combined market share of the Chinese vendors in the top five increased by 4.2 percentage points, while the market share of top two, Samsung (20.9%) and Apple, remained unchanged.