Smartphone market returns to growth in Q4 As Apple Becomes World’s Biggest Seller

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The global smartphone market returned to annual growth of 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, to 385.9 million shipments in total, according to IDC. The market strength was led by Apple, which took the top spot for shipments from Samsung thanks to the popularity of its iPhone 12 series.

The recovery in Q4 was attributed to pent-up demand and excess savings among consumers after the coronavirus restrictions earlier in the year. Vendors also appeared better prepared to meet customer needs during the second lockdown, IDC said.

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Apart from the growth figures, the main surprise of the quarter was Apple vaulting into first position.

The release of its first 5G phones helped the company grow shipments over 22 percent to 90.1 million, and its market share rose to 23.4 percent from 19.9 percent a year ago. Samsung also showed annual growth, but at a much lower rate of 6.2 percent, giving it a market share of 19.1 percent, up slightly from a year ago.

Xiaomi confirmed its position as number three in the market, after strong growth of 32 percent in shipments to 43.3 million. Its market share increased to 11.2 percent from 8.9 percent in Q4 2019.

Oppo came fourth with an 8.8 percent share after an estimated 10.7 percent increase in shipments, and Huawei dropped to fifth place with an 8.4 percent share and 42.4 percent drop in shipments.

Over the full year 2020, the smartphone market contracted 5.9 percent to 1.292 billion devices. The main winners were Apple, up 8 percent to 206.1 million phones shipped and a 15.9 percent market share, and Xiaomi, up 17.6 percent to 147.8 million phones and a 11.4 percent market share.


Samsung remained in first place with a 20.6 percent share, after an estimated 10 percent fall in shipments, and Huawei took third with a 14.6 percent share and a 21.5 percent fall in shipments.