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Oppo topples Apple as world's #3 camera phone maker, Samsung still a strong #1

Oppo topples Apple as world's #3 camera phone maker
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has had yet another bite taken out of its share of the camera phone business – this time by Chinese phone manufacturer Oppo, which has officially usurped the American giant for third place in the global camera phone market. 

The Cupertino company sold 6 million fewer iPhones in Q2 2019 than it did during the same period in 2018, which translated to a 15% decline in market share and an 11.8% decline in revenue – enough for Apple to slide out of the word's "big three" phone manufacturers.  

That's according to the latest findings by IHS Markit (opens in new tab) (by way of Business Insider (opens in new tab)). Despite some of the best camera phones (opens in new tab) we've ever seen, shipments have continued their year-on-year decline, having failed to rise since Q3 2017, with Apple taking yet another battering.

However, despite the ongoing slide in camera phone sales, four companies have managed to see growth during the quarter – that being the new "big three" of Samsung, Huawei and Oppo, along with tenth-ranked upstart Alcatel. 

Samsung remains the dominant camera phone manufacturer, with a 23% market share. This standing only looks set to improve, with the release of products like the Samsung Galaxy S10+ (opens in new tab) and the announcement of a new 108MP, 6K image sensor (opens in new tab)

With its constant innovation, Samsung has solidified its place as the world's top camera phone company

With its constant innovation, Samsung has solidified its place as the world's top camera phone company (Image credit: Samsung)

Surprisingly, given its political plight in the United States, Huawei saw growth of 8% and now enjoys an 18% share of the market. With the company fighting back against the Google blacklisting (opens in new tab) by launching its own operating system, HarmonyOS (opens in new tab), the Trump administration may have given Huawei even more autonomy.

The real surprise, though, is the continued growth of Oppo. Apple's 15% decline coincided with Oppo's 13% growth, and the Chinese manufacturer now holds an 11% market share. 

IHS only sees Oppo's position strengthening over the coming year, thanks to its partnering with European carriers during the rollout of 5G networks: "Even without significant market share in many of European markets, OPPO is demonstrating its value to European carriers and is setting itself up for more growth this year."

So what, then, does the future hold for Apple and its downward trend? IHS describes it as "a trend that is unlikely to be fixed soon," as the company "still faces two key challenges: super-premium pricing for its latest models and insufficient price elasticity in its older models to drive significant additional shipments of two-to-three-year-old devices."

While the iPhone 11's three-camera array (opens in new tab) is certainly a big step for Apple, it's still a few steps behind the rest of the market. The once-innovative company is now playing a constant game of catch-up, and it's being increasingly outpaced in the race. 

Read more: 

iPhone 11 (opens in new tab) camera is really, really ugly
Best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab): do you need an iPhone XS or will an older iPhone do?
The best camera phone (opens in new tab) in 2019: ultimate smartphone cameras compared

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.