Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies shipped over 240 million smartphones globally in 2019, beating shipments of more than 200 million in 2018, and making progress despite being blacklisted in May by the US from doing business with American suppliers.

Among the handsets sold last year, 6.9 million units were 5G phones, and its high-end Mate series and P series recorded year-on-year increases of over 50%, according to the company’s official account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor, was the only one of the top-five global smartphone vendors to achieve double-digit growth in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2019 as overall global handset sales declined, according to recent data from research firm Gartner.

Huawei has warned that 2020 could be a difficult year though as it expects to remain on the US blacklist. “We won’t grow as rapidly as we did in the first half of 2019, growth that continued throughout the year owing to sheer momentum in the market,” rotating chairman Eric Xu said in a New Year’s message to employees.

Exhibitors stand at Huawei section at the World Future Energy Summit 2020 (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 13 January 2020. (Picture: EPA-EFE)

Global sales of smartphones contracted 0.4% in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2018 while Huawei’s smartphone shipments recorded an increase of 26% year on year, driven mainly by a strong performance in the domestic market, Gartner said in the report.

Facing the loss of Google services in future, Huawei has stepped up efforts at home and accounted for 42% of the Chinese market in the third quarter of 2019, cutting the market shares of domestic rivals such as Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, a separate report from IDC showed.

2020 will be a big year for 5G phones in China as the country accelerates the roll-out of 5G infrastructure and consumers begin to embrace the next-generation network, which offers data rates up to 100 times faster than what current 4G networks provide.

Although Apple does not have a 5G phone yet, other major phone vendors including Huawei, Samsung, Oppo and Vivo released 5G phones last year. Xiaomi, China’s fourth-largest smartphone brand, is planning to launch at least 10 5G smartphone models this year in an attempt to tap rising appetite for the new technology.

A total of 190 million 5G-enabled smartphones are expected to be shipped in 2020, accounting for 14% of total smartphones shipments for the year, according to an IDC note released in November.