The Chinese smartphone market is a tough nut to crack given its sensitivity to prices and a slew of strong domestic brands. IDC estimates suggest Apple may have learned this the hard way during the third quarter of this year: it slipped from fourth place in local market share during the second quarter to sixth. Samsung kept out in front, but everyone else who knocked Apple down a couple of pegs was from the neighborhood, starting with second-place Lenovo followed by Coolpad, ZTE and Huawei. Price and wider availability no doubt played a part in shifting further towards a (mostly) Android-based field, although the period may have also exacerbated the pre-update lull in sales that Apple often faces -- while those in some countries were picking up an iPhone 5 in September, China won't have its turn until December 14th. Fourth quarter results won't completely reverse the state of affairs, but they could easily be worth watching.