Smartphone Sales Declined Again in Q3

Posted on November 25, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 15 Comments

Smartphone makers sold 360 million units in the third quarter of 2020, a decline of 3.6 percent compared to the 373.7 million sold in the year-ago quarter. That’s according to data averaged between Gartner and IDC, as always.

But to be fully transparent here, I’ve been waiting on the official Gartner data for weeks: IDC reported its results almost a month ago and that link above is to a third-party site that cites Gartner’s numbers. I can’t find them on the Gartner website: The last report it has published publicly is for the second quarter of 2020.

“While some of the topline numbers may not seem pretty, we are seeing a lot of improvement in the smartphone market both in terms of supply chains and consumer demand,” IDC’s Ryan Reith said. “In the large developed markets, it is very clear that 5G will be positioned to most consumers as their next phone regardless of which brand or price point they are focused on … Having said this, we still believe consumer demand for 5G is minimal at best, which only adds to the price pressure on channels and OEMs.”

Anyway. Samsung remained the number one maker of smartphones, with 80.6 million units sold and 22.4 percent marketshare and 2.6 percent growth year-over-year. Huawei remained the number two seller of smartphones, though that will change dramatically this quarter because the firm sold off its Honor line of handsets: Huawei sold 51.85 million units, a decline of 21 percent, and it ended up with 14.4 percent marketshare. Xiaomi was number three, with 45.5 million units sold, 12.6 percent marketshare, and growth of 37.5 percent.

As for Apple, it still ended up in the top four despite not launching its late 2020 iPhones until after the quarter ended: Apple sold 41.1 million units, good for 11.4 percent marketshare. Sales were down just 5 percent year-over-year, which is actually pretty amazing. We can expect the firm to jump considerably this quarter.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Smartphone Sales Declined Again in Q3”

  1. beckoningeagle

    I think the market is saturated. The difference in price is simply too much for the difference in features.

  2. JH_Radio

    I'm on a grandfathered plan that isn't provisioned for 5G, plus no Verizon 5G in PA. So I'm going to go with 4G devices when I do upgrade even if its not the latest phone. Its cheaper with all of the bonus data I'm getting to stay on the plan I'm currently on. Plus I honestly do not need the crazy bandwidth that 5G offers. Plus no mid and low band spectrum, yet. I just do not see the rub with 5G.

  3. sledge

    Market saturation and maybe funds going towards laptops instead for home work.

  4. rmlounsbury

    I'd have to image that this is largely because phones from a year or two ago still work perfectly fine. There isn't a lot to get consumers to want to stay on the treadmill upgrade cycle. This generation of phones is mostly about 5G and improvements to low light photography. Couple that with the run up in pricing it doesn't exactly excite one to run out and buy the newest device.


    Combine all that with a year of people reigning in their spending and the industry is lucky sales weren't down more.


    I do think folks are realizing their 1-2 year old phone is just as good as the current crop (unless you want the latest and greatest camera array or need bleeding edge tech).

  5. jchampeau

    Although I never did it myself, I miss the days of iPhone releases that were so highly anticipated people stood in line for hours or even days to buy new models.

  6. illuminated

    So just like PC smartphone is dying. Long live consoles?

  7. ben lee

    Be interesting to see if this is COVID related or the inevitable market saturation point. Considering sales of things like TV's and PC's are up it would make sense sale of more portable devices would be down. Though it could be just down to Huawei and Apple not being on full throttle as usual during the quarter.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Suspect it's a bit of both. Smartphone sales declined YOY for the first time over two years ago. https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/153092/smartphone-sales-just-fell-first-time-ever
  8. rheuser

    Smart Phones have become far too expensive for regular updates like I used to do.

  9. ilovemissy85

    That’s because no one has a job anymore thanks to this damn virus.

  10. brettscoast

    Interesting numbers there,  Xiaomi seems to have increased their footprint in the smartphone market quite exponentially.

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