Smartphone shipments in China plunge 35% in July: government data

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Smartphone shipments in China plunged 35% in July compared with a year earlier, government data released on Tuesday shows. The numbers suggest handset demand in China remains weak despite indications of a recovery after coronavirus cases peaked, boding poorly for companies like Apple Inc (O:AAPL) and its local rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. Phone makers shipped 21.3 million handsets in July, versus 33 million a year earlier, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a state-backed think tank. That marks a steeper decline than in May and June, when shipments dropped 10% and 16%, respectively. In April, after a slump in the previous months due to the health crisis, CAICT reported smartphone shipments grew an unexpected 17% annually. At the time, the jump suggested potential for a sales rebound for China's smartphone brands, which saw purchases plummet at the height of COVID-19. China is one of the few countries where retail outlets have re-opened almost fully after a virus-related lockdowns. Apple and its rival smartphone brands do not publicly release regional shipment data.