Smartphone shipments across EMEA dropped by 8% year-on-year in the first quarter as countries across the region began to respond to the spread of coronavirus and lock down local economies.

In total, companies shipped 76,9-million smartphones in 1Q20.

“Considering the circumstances, the market was strong,” says Simon Baker, program director for mobile devices at IDC EMEA. “There were already supply-side issues in China in January following the lockdown of the coronavirus epicenter in Wuhan. Many phone factories extended their Chinese New Year holidays in February, but after this, production recovered very quickly.”

Marta Pinto, research manager at IDC EMEA, adds: “While countries were already beginning to limit travel earlier in the quarter, the first national lockdown in Europe did not happen until 9 March, in Italy, so the demand side impact was relatively short.”

Within Western Europe, smartphone shipments were down 18,8%, though the decline in value was less pronounced. In Central and Eastern Europe, the market was stronger, with units and value slightly above the year before, despite the drop in value of the Russian ruble.

The first quarter was largely the calm before the storm. The full impact of the lockdowns will be seen in the second quarter figures.

“Initial feedback indicates that the demand impact was abrupt and is affecting not only volumes but also average selling prices,” says Pinto. “The new online focus will oblige brands to adapt their marketing and to stay relevant and top of mind.”

Across Europe, Samsung once again ranked first. The new Samsung 2020 A series was an immediate hit and compensated for lackluster demand for the new flagship S20 series.

Despite its problems with US sanctions, Huawei also did well and reversed the slide in share of the previous three quarters. Its average sales price continued to fall, however, as consumers opted for older and cheaper models.

Apple outperformed the market and the new iPhone 11 models tightened their grip on the top of the market.

Xiaomi’s market share continued to grow driven by strong shipments in Western Europe and Middle East and Africa.