By David Meyer
October 2, 2017

China is a crucial market for Apple, so it must be worrying for the company that people there seem to be less enthusiastic about the iPhone 8 than they were about previous models. Now, a new survey has backed up that picture by suggesting that Chinese consumers have become more keen on another brand from closer to home.

The Financial Times’ FT Confidential Research surveyed 1,000 Chinese consumers and found that less than quarter intended to buy an iPhone as their next handset—and that covers both the iPhone 8 and the more expensive, feature-rich iPhone X.

Meanwhile, 31.4% of respondents said they were planning to get a Huawei handset as their next phone. That’s the same percentage that were planning to buy iPhones two years ago—a figure that dropped to 25.8% last year and now rests at just 24.2%.

This marks the first time that Huawei, which makes well-specified mid-range phones such as the P10, has knocked Apple off the top spot in Chinese consumer buying intentions.

It also isn’t the first data to show how Huawei is providing a serious challenge to its better-known U.S. rival. In August, global shipment figures analyzed by Canalys showed the Chinese company shipped 38 million units in Q2—a 20% year-on-year increase—to Apple’s 41 million. Samsung, the leading smartphone vendor, shipped 79 million units in the quarter.

Even sticking to the responses of Apple fans, the new figures don’t look good for Apple’s latest models. According to the FT Confidential Research data, the share of those willing to shell out for a new model is dropping: 65.1% of those planning to buy an iPhone are aiming for an iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X, while the rest are looking at cheaper models. A year ago, more than three-quarters of respondents who were considering iPhones were looking at buying a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.

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