Apple Regains Lead In Worldwide Smartphone Sales


Worldwide sales of smartphones dropped 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 12.5 percent overall for the year, Gartner reported on Monday (Feb. 22).

Apple’s launch of the 5G 12 series of iPhones helped the firm hit double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of last year, giving it the lead over Samsung for global sales. The last time Apple was in the top spot for smartphone sales was in the fourth quarter of 2016. 

Samsung saw a year-on-year drop in sales of 14.6 percent last year, but it still hung on to the number one position for global smartphone sales for the full year of 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,” Gupta said.

In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five ranking smartphones to experience growth. Huawei recorded the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors, which was likely due to the company’s ban on Google applications.

“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 Gupta. “The rising demand for affordable 5G smartphones outside China will boost smartphone sales in 2021.”

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, worldwide smartphone sales dropped more than 20 percent in the second quarter of 2020, with Huawei and Samsung about tied for first place in sales.

In January, Apple supplier Murata was projecting requests for 5G wireless devices to exceed 500 million handsets. 

In November, weak iPhone sales didn’t take away from Apple’s lead as the most valuable company in the country.