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People wearing masks try out the newly launched Huawei Mate40 mobile phone at the Huaweis flagship store in Shanghai on Oct. 23, 2020.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Smartphone shipments in China plunged 27 per cent in October compared with the same month last year, government data released on Friday showed.

The numbers suggest that handset demand is weak despite China’s recovery from the novel coronavirus and that Apple Inc and its local rivals, such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, will compete in a shrinking market.

Phone makers shipped 25 million handsets in October compared with 34.6 million a year earlier, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a state-backed think-tank.

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That follows an annual 36 per cent decline in September, to 22 million compared with 34.7 million in September 2019.

Data from third-party research firms revealed that Apple and Huawei both saw shipments decline year-on-year in Q3 2020.

Both companies released new flagship handsets in October.

Analysts remain bullish about the reception of both devices in the short term, though the continued slump suggests overall market trends for the sector will not reverse.

Retail outlets in China have reopened widely following a lockdown to stall the spread of the coronavirus, unlike in some other countries.

Apple and its rival smartphone brands do not publicly release regional shipments.

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