June was not a good month to be a maker or vendor of smartphones in China. According to data compiled by the government and cited by Reuters, in that month, shipments of such devices fell by 16% on a year-over-year basis. All told, 27.7 million smartphones were shipped in June, compared to the 32.7 million that went out in the same month of 2019. 

This was the second straight decline. In May, shipments were down by 10%. The previous month, they had risen by 17%, leading to hopes that the country was on a growth path.

Woman in protective mask using a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

The recent declines are somewhat confounding, given that a great many Chinese retail stores that stock smartphones have reopened, now that the coronavirus outbreak there is on a significant downturn. According to official statistics, it has dwindled to nearly nothing in most locations.

The news will be worrying to the major handset makers competing in the country, particularly tech industry titan Apple (AAPL 0.12%) and Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi (XIACF 0.47%). All suffered declines across a very challenging Q1 during the worst of the pandemic.

According to research from IDC, within the quarter, Apple suffered a 12% drop in shipments, which slotted between market share leader Huawei's 4% and Xiaomi's nearly 34%. As per IDC's data, in terms of market share, Xiaomi was the country's No. 4 at the time and Apple was No. 5.

None of the three companies has yet commented publicly on the latest China figures.

On Monday, both Apple and Xiaomi stocks fell marginally, compared to the slight increases of the key equity indexes.