Smartphone Sales Fell Almost 10 Percent in 2020

Posted on February 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 43 Comments

Smartphone makers sold 1.32 billion handsets in 2020, a decline of 9.6 percent when compared to the 1.46 billion units sold in 2019. But sales rebounded a bit in the fourth quarter, thanks largely to strong iPhone 12 sales, with the market growing about 2 percent overall.

“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” Gartner’s Anshul Gupta says. “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.”

“The majority of the world is either in some form of lockdown or still waiting to return to normal day-to-day life, yet smartphone sales are rebounding as though nothing ever happened,” IDC’s Ryan Reith says. “This illustrates the importance of smartphones in everyone’s life and provides a strong foundation for market demand. As the world progresses towards a post-pandemic environment, IDC believes demand will grow and the market recovery will accelerate.”

For the full year, Samsung was again the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, with approximately 260 million units sold, good for almost 18 percent marketshare. But Samsung saw sales plummet by 12 percent in 2020: It had sold 296 million units the previous year.

By comparison, Apple finished strong in the fourth quarter of 2020, and was, in fact, the biggest smartphone maker in that quarter. In the fourth quarter, Apple sold 85 million iPhones, achieving an incredible 22 percent marketshare with 385.25 handsets sold by all hardware makers overall. For the full year, Apple sold 203 million iPhones, for about 14 percent marketshare, and representing growth of 5.4 percent year-over-year (YOY).

Huawei, as expected, fell hard in 2020 and dropped to second place behind Apple for the first time in two years. Huawei sold 186 million handsets in 2020, down 12.8 percent from the 240.6 million units it sold in 2019.

Xiaomi came in fourth place with about 146.5 million units sold, and two other Chinese firms, vivo and OPPO, were tied for fifth place.

As always, this data is averaged between Gartner and IDC estimates.

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