According to data from Counterpoint Research, Apple saw a decline in smartphone sales during China's recent Singles Day shopping festival.
Instead, the outfit has been replaced by cheaper and arguably better rivals Huawei and Xiaomi.
The value of Apple's smartphone sales declined four per cent year-on-year during the two-week sales from 30 October to 12 November, the research consultancy said on Thursday.
In comparison Huawei grew 66 per cent while Xiaomi increased sales by 28 per cent respectively year-on-year over the same period.
The increases for Huawei and Xiaomi helped fuel a five per cent year-over-year rise in the overall value of Chinese smartphone sales during the promotion period, it said.
Apple's latest iPhone 15 model costs $832, while Huawei's Mate 60 smartphones start from $763. Xiaomi's latest Mi 14 smartphone is priced from $555.
Analysts have said the Chinese smartphone market is poised to rebound, with research firm IDC saying it expects sales to grow year-on-year in the fourth quarter after ten consecutive quarters of falling shipments.
It is not as if the big Chinese e-commerce platforms did not try to push Apple gear as most of them were offering hefty discounts. It was also not an issue that Apple lacked the latest model as it released its iPhone 15 series in late September.
The Mate 60 series has received significant patriotic support in China with fans saying it shows how Huawei has managed to overcome years of export controls by the United States that initially crippled its smartphone business.
Xiaomi launched its flagship Mi 14 smartphone series in late October, with CEO Lei Jun revealing that sales for the new line had surpassed 1 million units after its release.
Counterpoint said that Apple's sluggish performance could be down to supply chain issues that have constrained the availability of its new iPhone 15 models.
Counterpoint senior analyst for manufacturing Ivan Lam said: "Apple is improving compared to last month, but there still seems to be hiccups in terms of supply.”