Global Smartphone Shipments Jump 27 Percent, Canalys Says

smartphones in store

Worldwide shipments of smartphones hit 347 million in the first quarter of 2021, a 27 percent increase year over year.

That’s according to a report released Thursday (April 29) by tech research firm Canalys, which found that Samsung was the leading smartphone maker for the quarter, selling 76.5 million devices, or 22 percent of the market share.

Apple came in second, with a 15 percent share, or 52.4 million iPhones. Canalys notes that the company’s iPhone 12 Mini didn’t quite meet expectations, although other iPhone 12 models — and the iPhone 11 — continue to do well.

Rounding out the top five were three Chinese phone makers, including Xiaomi, which grew 62 percent and shipped 49 million units in its strongest quarter ever.

“In addition to great product value, Xiaomi is now also making strides to recruit local talent, become more channel-friendly and lead in high-end innovation, as seen with the Mi 11 Ultra and its recent foldable, the Mi Mix Fold, said Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton. “Its competitors offer superior channel margin, but Xiaomi’s sheer volume actually gives distributors a better opportunity to make money than rival brands.”

But Stanton cautioned not to count out Xiaomi’s closest competitors, Oppo, which shipped 37.6 million devices in Q1, and Viva, coming in just behind Oppo with 36 million units.

Last year saw a decline in the number of smartphone shipments in China — from 372 million in 2019 down to 296 million, a shortfall caused both by consumer habits and pandemic-related supply chain problems.

“COVID-19 is still a major consideration, but it is no longer the main bottleneck,” said Stanton. “Supply of critical components, such as chipsets, has quickly become a major concern, and will hinder smartphone shipments in the coming quarters.”

He added that the pandemic will cause brands to rethink their approaches in some regions. For example, the massive COVID wave to hit India might lead companies to make shipments there less of a priority.