Apple surpasses Samsung in smartphone sales for the first time since 2016

Global smartphone sales declined by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020

iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro

Apple surpassed Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales for the first time in four years, according to Gartner’s Q4 2020 report.

The launch of the iPhone 12 series helped the tech giant record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple had 79.9 million smartphone sales in the quarter, whereas Samsung had 62.1 million.

Xiaomi rounded out the top three with 43.4 million sales. Oppo and Huawei came in fourth and fifth place, respectively, with 34.3 million sales each.

Interestingly, the report reveals that global smartphone sales declined by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter and declined 12.5 percent in the full year. This isn’t exactly surprising since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to financial uncertainty for several people around the world.

“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, the senior director at Gartner, in the report.

“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,” Gupta notes.

Although Samsung saw a 14.6 year-over-year decline in smartphone sales last year, it still remained in first place for the most global sales for the whole year.

Gartner outlines that it faced tough competition from regional smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo. Huawei saw the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors, which allowed Apple to jump into second place.

Huawei’s decline was expected, as the company continued to face several restrictions in 2020, such as losing access to Google’s apps, including the Play Store.

The report states that the rising demand for affordable 5G smartphones will boost sales in 2021 as “the availability of lower end 5G smartphones and innovative features will be deciding factors for end-users to upgrade their existing smartphones.”

Image credit: Gartner

Source: Gartner