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Apple Becomes World’s Biggest Smartphone Maker Again


Due to the disruptions caused by the covid pandemic, smartphone sales declined in the final quarter of 2020, during the high holiday season. In the final three months, smartphone sales dipped by 5 percent worldwide, the same period when the industry experiences a drastic increase in sales.

“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.

During the quarter, Apple reclaimed its top spot for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2016, the latest figures from Gartner research shows. The report tells the same story as another one from Canalys released about a month ago.

“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.”

Apple’s stellar performance has been associated with the launch of 5G iPhones in November. The company first 5G iPhones helped the company record double-digit growth in Q4, surpassing Samsung that has consistently held the mantle for quite some time.

Apple shipped 80 million iPhones in the period, up 15 percent year-over-year.

Samsung slipped to number two with a 12 percent decline in smartphone sales to 62 million. Xiaomi grew its shipment numbers by 34 percent, the highest from a single manufacturer in the period, to 43 million.

Huawei trailed behind Oppo at number four after a 41 percent decline in shipments.

In general, for the whole of 2020, Samsung maintained its market lead, followed by Apple and Huawei at number two and three, respectively. Chinese smartphone makers, Xiaomi and Oppo, held the fourth and fifth positions. Sales declined by 13 percent for the whole year.

“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 Mr. Gupta.

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

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin is a freelance tech journalist. Talk to me via email at alvinwanjala[at]pm[dot]me

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