Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Declined 5% in Fourth Quarter of 2020

Apple Became Top Smartphone Vendor in Fourth Quarter and Surpassed Huawei to Move into No. 2 Spot in Full Year 2020 Results

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020.

“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”

The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot (see Table 1). The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016.

Table 1. Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q20 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 4Q20

Sales

4Q20 Market Share (%) 4Q19

Sales

4Q19 Market Share (%) 4Q20-4Q19 Growth (%)
Apple 79,942.7 20.8 69,550.6 17.1 14.9
Samsung 62,117.0 16.2 70,404.4 17.3 -11.8
Xiaomi 43,430.3 11.3 32,446.9 8.0 33.9
OPPO 34,373.7 8.9 30,452.5 7.5 12.9
Huawei 34,315.7 8.9 58,301.6 14.3 -41.1
Others 130,442.8 33.9 145,482.1 35.8 -10.3
Total 384,622.3 100.0 406,638.1 100.0 -5.4

Due to rounding, some figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

Full Year 2020 Results

Samsung experienced a year-on-year decline of 14.6% in 2020, but this did not prevent it from retaining its No. 1 global smartphone vendor position in full year results. It faced tough competition from regional smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo as these brands grew more aggressive in global markets. In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five ranking to experience growth.

Huawei recorded the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors which made it lose the No. 2 position to Apple in 2020 (see Table 2). The impact of the ban on use of Google applications on Huawei’s smartphones was detrimental to Huawei’s performance in the year and negatively affected sales.

Table 2. Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2020 (Thousands of Units)

Vendor 2020

Sales

2020

Market Share (%)

2019

Sales

2019

Market Share (%)

2020-2019

Growth (%)

Samsung 253,025.0 18.8 296,194.0 19.2 -14.6
Apple 199,847.3 14.8 193,475.1 12.6 3.3
Huawei 182,610.2 13.5 240,615.5 15.6 -24.1
Xiaomi 145,802.7 10.8 126,049.2 8.2 15.7
OPPO 111,785.2 8.3 118,693.2 7.7 -5.8
Others 454,799.4 33.7 565,630.0 36.7 -19.6
Total 1,347,869.8 100.0 1,540,657.0 100.0 -12.5

Due to rounding, some figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

“In 2021, the availability of lower end 5G smartphones and innovative features will be deciding factors for end users to upgrade their existing smartphones,” said Mr. Gupta. “The rising demand for affordable 5G smartphones outside China will boost smartphone sales in 2021.

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