Research firm Gartner has released its latest smartphone sales report for Q4 2019. It doesn’t make for great reading in an industry that has slowed down in recent years, with only two of the usual top five smartphone vendors seeing growth in the quarter.

The two vendors are Apple and Xiaomi, with the Chinese firm somewhat taking the role of its native counterpart Huawei.

According to Gartner, sales for the quarter went down 0.4 percent year-on-year, with the entire year declining by 1.0 percent. While things dropped slightly, the research firm does note that things ended better than predicted.

2019 ended a little better than expected, due to slightly improved performances from North America and emerging Asia/Pacific,” explained Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner.

“However, India, which sold 151.9 million units, overtook the US to become the No. 2 country for smartphone sales in 2019. China maintained the lead, with sales of 390.8 million smartphones over the full year,” Gupta adds. 

As such it looks like the territory could be a key battle ground for vendors in 2020, with Android in particular being the preferred operating system.

As for the aforementioned vendors who performed better than their counterparts, Apple managed an increase of 7.8 percent, with the firm’s lower-specced and older iPhone models helping in that regard.

Xiaomi benefitted similarly from having well priced and powerful performing Redmi devices during the quarter to see sales rise by 16.5 percent year-on-year.

“This strong performance enabled Xiaomi to overtake OPPO and take the No. 4 spot. The price and performance of Redmi models drove Xiaomi’s smartphone sales growth, and the company did particularly well in emerging Asia/Pacific,” says Gupta.

While both firms did well, they still sit behind Samsung in the number one spot in terms of market share, with Huawei capable of maintaining its second place despite continued issues with the United States and a lack of Google Play Services. Sticking with Huawei, Gupta says the company’s renewed focus in China helped it whether the storm somewhat, but it will not stay that way for long.

“If Huawei continues to face a ban on accessing technology from the US in 2020, its smartphone prospects in the international smartphone market will be severely impacted,” the analyst warns.

Gartner’s research VP Annette Zimmerman also highlights the impending effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will have in the coming quarter.

“Looking forward, while the COVID-19 outbreak will impact smartphone demand negatively in China in the first quarter of 2020, we do not expect a demand contraction in the international smartphone market during that period,” she concludes.

As such this slowing trend could turn downwards during the first couple of quarters of 2020.