Apple wasn't the only smartphone brand struggling in China this fall

Apple wasn't the only smartphone brand struggling in China this fall

If there's any consolation for the company, it's that many of its Chinese competitors were in the same boat. Huawei's phone shipments surged 23.3 percent, but Xiaomi and other big names saw their units plunge as well. Even the sister brands Oppo and Vivo, which have been historically strong, barely improved their numbers. Handsets like the Find X and NEX S couldn't overcome economic headaches, then.

It's not certain how Apple could turn things around in the near future. The company's Tim Cook did hint at adjusting prices for some countries, but slightly lower costs would still make the iPhone expensive compared to many of the offerings from Chinese competitors -- and that won't change the economy. Simply speaking, things might not get better until there's either an economic recovery or a larger change in Apple's lineup.