Report: Smartphone Sales Freight Train Slows Down As Chinese Market Faces Saturation

At least one market research firm believes that China, the biggest country for smartphone sales, has reached saturation. As a result, worldwide smartphone sales grew 13.5 percent year-over-year, the slowest growth rate since 2013, with units totaling 330 million in the second quarter of 2015, according to Gartner. That's despite new smartphone launches from both Apple and Samsung.

China accounted for nearly a third -- 30 percent -- of all smartphone sales in the second quarter. However, the market in China is largely driven by replacement handsets rather than first-time buyers, Gartner says. With China reaching saturation, smartphone sales in the region fell 4 percent year-over-year, marking the first time there's been a decline.

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

An interesting side story is the battle for the top spot between Samsung and Apple. Riding the launch of its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge devices, Samsung was able to maintain pole position by shipping over 72 million handsets for a 21.9 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market. Unfortunately for Samsung, that's down from 26.2 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Meanwhile, Apple grabbed a largest slice of the pie, going from 12.2 percent on 35.3 million iPhone shipments in the second quarter of 2014 to 14.6 percent on more than 48 million iPhone shipments in Q2 2015.

"Apple's double-digit growth in the high-end segment continued to negatively impact its rivals' premium phone sales and profit margins. Many vendors had to realign their portfolios to remain competitive in the midrange and low-end smartphone segments. This realignment resulted in price wars and discounting to clear up inventory for new devices planned for the second half of 2015," Gartner said.

That also helped Apple lessen the gap between iOS and Android, albeit not by very much. Google's Android platform accounts for 82.2 percent of the smartphone market versus iOS at 14.6 percent.