Apple beat Samsung to become the world’s largest seller of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a new data report from research firm Gartner. Samsung had surpassed Apple since the same quarter in 2016.
Gartner estimates that Apple sold 79.94 million in the quarter, while Samsung sold 62.17 million. Samsung did not release any new flagship phones that quarter. Apple’s sales were driven by the introduction of the new iPhone 12 series, which generally outsold the previous year’s iPhone updates. Apple sold 69.6 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2019.
However, this win for Apple happened amid a general decline in the smartphone market. Total smartphone sales fell 12.5 percent in 2020 and 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The lower decline in the quarter compared to the rest of the year was attributed to “sales of more 5G and lower-to-midrange smartphones,” according to Gartner’s Anshul Gupta.
Samsung saw an overall drop in smartphone sales of 14.6 percent in 2020, though the company still remained the top smartphone seller throughout the year, regardless of Apple’s fourth-quarter victory. Gartner notes that Samsung faces stiff competition in many markets from Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo, all of which have grown over the year.
At the same time, a beleaguered Huawei saw the biggest drop in sales of the year. Turnover fell by 24.1 percent. Gupta said smartphone sales in 2021 will be driven by the adoption of 5G phones outside of China.
However, not all iPhone 12 models have sold equally well. We reported earlier this month that the iPhone 12 mini moved significantly fewer units than the iPhone 12 or even the iPhone 12 Pro – bad news for small phone enthusiasts. Nevertheless, some analysts and leakers predict that the mini format will return in the iPhone 13 series later this year.
List image by Samuel Axon