Report: Samsung Gained Big on iPhone in Q4 2021

Posted on January 19, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Mobile, iOS, Android with 17 Comments

The market researchers at Canalys claim that Samsung closed the gap on the iPhone in the previous quarter despite the iPhone 13 series launch. Worse for Apple, iPhone sales were basically flat in the quarter.

Note: I will report on smartphone sales in more detail when Gartner and IDC weigh in on their 2021 sales estimates.

“Apple accounted for 22 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in Q4 2021, thanks to strong demand for the iPhone 13,” the Canalys report notes. “But overall shipments for the quarter grew just 1 percent, as vendors faced supply chain problems and a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Samsung took second place, with a market share of 20 percent.”

This is doubly impressive for Samsung because its most recent major product launch was back in August, when it announced expensive new foldable devices. Apple, meanwhile, announced and released several new iPhone 13 models in September. Samsung is set to announce the Galaxy S22 series in the coming weeks.

Rounding out the top five, Canalys says that Xiaomi came in third with a 12 percent marketshare, followed by OPPO/OnePlus (9 percent) and Vivo (8 percent).

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Report: Samsung Gained Big on iPhone in Q4 2021”

  1. angusmatheson

    Wait? Apple sells more phones than Samsung? When did that happen?

    • wright_is

      Yes, I thought Samsung had sold more units in each quarter. Except Q4, where Apple sold more…

    • angusmatheson

      But I can still be surprised. Wasn’t every smart phone sales news article from 2010 to 2020 how apple was doomed and how Samsung was going to eat it’s lunch. Samsung used to be a lot bigger than Apple. The iPhone’s staying power has been remarkable - despite being more expensive, not coming in the variety of firm factors (curved, foldable, type C charging because with iPhone you get what Apple says you want), and locked in ecosystem (which admittedly I see as a plus when recommending a phone for my parents). I admit my use of android is limited, but all my cool nerd friends use android. I read/watch 100 android phone reviews for every iPhone - because iPhone reviews are boring (it’s an IPhone, it runs iOS, it has a screen, it turns on, the battery lasts about the same as the last one). I had expected iPhone to turn into the Mac of smart phones - maybe 5%, totally niche, but dedicated users. Yet a lot of people, including me, keep buying the expensive, locked in iPhone. It is just surprising that it was Sumsung that stumbled, not Apple.

  2. Chris_Kez

    "This is doubly impressive for Samsung because its most recent major product launch was back in August, when it announced expensive new foldable devices."

    I'm curious how Samsung sales break down by model, and how much the various parts of their lineup contributed to overall brand sales.

    • wright_is

      I would think a vast majority of sales go to low-end and mid-range devices. "Traditional" flagships (S series and Note) take a relatively small percentage, world-wide, with the foldables being very niche.


      Around here, I would guess I am seeing a ratio of 10-1 for mid-range and low-end devices (Nokia, Oppo, Samsung A series, iPhone SE etc.), compared to high-end (S series, Note, Xperia, iPhone etc.).

  3. Saarek

    I suspect that much of Samsungs market share is due to their cheap phones. You can pick up a Samsung Galaxy for £150 brand new (less if you are willing to look around). At that point they are practically giving their phones away.


    Don't get me wrong, Samsung make some very nice top tier phones. But market share is not a metric that Apple generally cares about, for Apple it's all about profit share.

    • toukale

      Well most don't want to talk about that because they know who's winning by a long shot. Market shares metric makes sense for those on Android since they are all using the same OS. Apple have their own little world and do not sell cheap devices which makes up the majority of those Android sales.

  4. jason_e

    I wonder who took the vast majority of profits :)

  5. skramer49

    So Samsung took about 25% of the total Android market, which is about 3.5x larger than the iPhone market. Still not bad.

  6. Stabitha.Christie

    In Q4 2021.


    From the article:

    "Samsung took second placedown from the top spot in Q3 2021, with a market share of 20%."


    Quarter of quarter Samsung lost market share and Apple took the top spot.


    Year of year Samsung gained market share against Apple.


    The take away here is Apple is able to hit the number one spot in the first full quarter of having new models. I don't really think that is much of a revelation though.

    • digiguy

      Not trying to be pedantic, but the expression is not quarter of quarter etc. but quarter on quarter and year on year (not an English native speaker, but I work in finance, where these expression are very common). I think "over" is still fine though.

      • Stabitha.Christie

        You are correct, "on" is the correct word to choose. I even sat there staring at my comment knowing it didn't read correctly but was drawing a blank on the what I should have been using. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Paul Thurrott

      We don't measure market share quarter over quarter. We measure it year over year. I'll look to providing more detail when we have more information from Gartner and IDC.
      • Stabitha.Christie

        Totally fair but the article you linked to did and I quoted it as it was useful in answering angusmatheson's question of when Apple surpassed Samsung. Looking at it yoy you would think Apple happened a year ago vs. the top two spots chasing over the the year.


        Also just realized that I didn't hit reply to their comment and so it doesn't show up as a response as intended.

  7. johnh3

    Saw some statistic that Samsung best selling phone was the A12 model. The S21 series not selling very well, not even in top ten. Going down from the peak with the S10. So they have lost the flagship segment to Apple.

    Maybe the foldables may be something that can save Samsung in the high end?