Samsung Beats Apple to Recapture Top Spot in Global Smartphone Market

Story Highlights
  • Samsung shipped 76.8 million units in the first three months of 2021, Counterpoint Research says..
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 series helped the company increase its shipments to beat Apple reclaiming its top spot.
  • Apple ranked second, followed by Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo.
  • Global smartphone shipments rose 20% YoY in q1, 2021 to 354 million units with revenue reaching $113 billion, the highest in the first quarter of any year.

Samsung is back to its top spot after shipping more smartphones than any other company in the Jan-March quarter. The South Korean-based tech company moved 76.8 million units in the first three months, Counterpoint Research says.

According to Gartner, Apple shipped 80 million iPhones, 18 million more than Samsung, to reclaim the long-lost mantle in Q4, 2020. Counterpoint and Canalys also reported similar rankings, despite some disparities in shipment numbers.

Varun Mishra, a Senior Analyst from the research firm, says Samsung ’s impeccable Q1, 2021 results were tied to the successful launch of the Galaxy S21 series, the company’s latest high-end smartphones.

According to the report, Samsung’s latest flagship series enjoyed strong demand across Europe, the US, Korea, and other markets.

The Galaxy S21 series was launched earlier than usual this year, in line with previous reports, as the company hoped to gobble up market share from troubled Chinese tech company Huawei.

Apple clinched the second spot, mainly supported by the late last year’s launch of the iPhone 12 series. Strong demand for the iPhone helped the company post a record first-quarter market share in several markets, including China, India, Japan, and its home market.

Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo ranked third, fourth, and fifth consecutively. The three Chinese OEMs had a stellar performance in the period, registering record market shares globally and in markets like China, Europe, Latin America, and South Asia to fill the gap left by Huawei.

Consequently, the three also posted record revenues during the period.

Global Smartphone Market Grows

During the period under review, global smartphone shipments rose 20% YoY to 354 million units. A separate report from research firm Canalys pegged the shipment number at 347 million units but with a 27% YoY increase.

Revenue across the market topped $100 billion, a first for the Q1 quarter, to $113 billion — up 35% YoY, according to Counterpoint.

The higher numbers were due to the stellar performance of the top five smartphone OEMs despite the ongoing global chip supply troubles.

Counterpoint says supply chains prioritized the big five, which gave them an advantage. Continued supply constraints might see the price of smartphones increase, says Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint.

“These shortages might push specific component prices up by 5-10%,” Pathak said.

“OEMs will look to absorb these cost increases by being creative with the Bill of Materials (BoM) and in some cases might even pass the added costs to the consumers.”

A Xiaomi executive warned it might increase the price as the cost of making smartphones continues to rise.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin Wanjala has been writing about technology for over 2 years. He writes about different topics in the consumer tech space. He loves streaming music, programming, and gaming during downtimes.

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