Apple has toppled Samsung from the top spot in the smartphone vendor rankings during the final three months of 2020. This follows a report from the research and analyst group Gartner that stated the Cupertino-based company shipped a total of 80 million devices in the final quarter of 2020 and gained a market share of 20.8%.
This is quite significant as the last time Apple took the No. 1 position from Samsung was back in 2016. Gartner attributed Apple’s strong performance for the quarter to its positive reception of the company’s first 5G-enabled iPhones.
It is said that the combination of 5G and improved camera features helped drive customers to update to the iPhone 12 models. Gartner senior research director Anshul Gupta said:
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.
Compared to the prior year, Apple sold 10 million more iPhones in the fourth quarter. It also saw its smartphone market share increase by almost 15% year-over-year. In contrast, Apple’s closest rival Samsung, saw its market decreased by 11.8% for the same period.
Looking at the full-year results, global smartphone sales among the top smartphone vendors decreased by 12.5% in 2020. That being said, Samsung retained the top position among the top vendors even though it experienced a 14.6% year-on-year decline. The company has its work cut out for it as it faces tough competition from Chinese smartphone makers like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo which have grown increasingly aggressive in the global market.
Huawei recorded the largest decline among the top five smartphone vendors, which resulted in it losing its number 2 position to Apple in 2020. This comes to no surprise given the impact of the ban on Google applications on Huawei’s devices has negatively impacted sales.
On that note, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two brands out of the top five smartphone makers that saw growth, with both recording 3.3% and 15.7% respectively. Apple’s growth also comes even though it launched the iPhone 12 later in the year as it missed its normal September timeframe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gartner added the iPhone 12 Mini, with its small form factor and relatively more affordable price tag which starts from RM3,399 may have been the deciding factor that helped Apple overtake Samsung last quarter. This comes despite reports that demand for the iPhone 12 Mini was poorer than expected. The research house expects the availability of lower-end 5G smartphones will be a “deciding factor for end-users to upgrade their existing smartphones”.
Looking forward to 2021, Gartner has a more positive outlook for the year as it predicts that worldwide smartphone sales will increase by 11.4% to 1.5 billion devices year-over-year. Much of this comes from pent-up consumer demand with delayed smartphone replacements and the availability of affordable 5G smartphones are poised to increase sales for the year.