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Apple's iPhone sales in China jump 52% in April, data shows

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai

BEIJING (Reuters) - Apple's smartphone shipments in China rose 52% in April from a year ago, extending a rebound seen in March, according to data from a research firm affiliated the Chinese government.

The jump follows a weak performance by the U.S. tech giant in the world's biggest smartphone market earlier this year amid intensifying competition in the high-end smartphone category from local rivals like Huawei.

Shipments of foreign-branded phones in China increased by 52% in April to 3.495 million units from 2.301 million a year earlier, data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) showed on Tuesday.

Apple's shares rose 2.3% in premarket trading.

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Although the data did not explicitly mention Apple, the company is the dominant foreign phone maker in China's smartphone market. This suggests that the increase in foreign-branded shipments can be attributed to Apple's performance.

Apple's shipments in China increased by 12% in March, marking a significant improvement from the first two months of 2024, when the company experienced a 37% slump in sales.

Sales may see a further boost in May as Apple launched an aggressive discounting campaign this month on its official Tmall site in China, offering discounts of up to 2,300 yuan ($318) on select iPhone models.

Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook forecast iPhone sales growth in some markets, including China, after the company reported an 8.1% drop in second-quarter revenue from the Greater China region.

The price reduction, double the size of a discount it offered in February, comes after Huawei introduced last month its new series of high-end smartphones, the Pura 70, following the launch of the Mate 60 last August.

Huawei overtook Apple in the first quarter as the No. 2 smartphone vendor in China and is ramping up its retail strategy by opening more flagship stores and adding more retail distributors. Huawei spinoff Honor holds the top spot.

Overall smartphone sales in China increased by 25.5% to 22.7 million units in April, data from the CAICT showed.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Writing by Miyoung Kim; editing by Jason Neely, Philippa Fletcher and Varun H K)