Samsung Kicked Out Of Top 5 Smartphone Sales Rankings In China

China continues to swell with smartphones—the latest data from Strategy Analytics pegs China's smartphone shipments as having grown 3 percent year-over-over to a hit record 438 million handsets in 2015. That's especially good news for Xiaomi, which retained its top spot with a 15.4 percent share of the market, but not so much for Samsung.

The South Korean handset maker was pushed out of the top 5 rankings and now occupies the catch-all "Others" category, which collectively accounts for more than four out of 10 handsets (43.1 percent) in China. However, the fifth most popular smartphone brand in China is OPPO, which shipped 33.2 million handsets in all of 2015 to grab a 7.6 percent share. That means Samsung's share is in low single digits territory at best (and a fraction of a percent at worst).

Samsung Galaxy S6

Huawei is the next biggest threat to Xiaomi with a 14.2 percent share of the market in China, up from 9.7 percent a year prior. After that, Apple isn't all that far behind at 11.3 percent, itself having jumped four percentage points from 2014.

"Apple had a strong quarter in China, shipping a record 15.5 million iPhones in Q4 2015. Apple solidified third position in China with 13 percent marketshare, up from 11 percent one year ago. Apple has worked hard to extend its retailer coverage across China, while Apple Music and other localized services have refreshed the iOS ecosystem for Chinese consumers," said Woody Oh, Director at Strategy Analytics.

Getting back to Samsung, the drop is notable not only because China is a big market for smartphones, but also because Samsung didn't appear to be on the verge of being bumped just a short six months ago—in August 2015, Samsung occupied the fourth spot of China's top five smartphone players.

The good news for Samsung is that it's getting ready to release new Galaxy handsets, presumably the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. If successful, Samsung could find itself right back in the running for a top 5 spot.