Apple beat out Samsung to become the world’s leading seller of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a new data report by research firm Gartner. Samsung had been the top smartphone maker since the same quarter in 2016.
Gartner estimates that Apple sold 79.94 million during the quarter, while Samsung managed to sell 62.17 million. Sales were driven by the introduction of the new iPhone 12 lineup, which generally sold better than the previous year’s iPhone updates. Apple sold 69.6 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2019. Samsung did not release new flagship phones that quarter.
However, that victory for Apple happened amid a general decline of the smartphone market. Overall smartphone sales declined 12.5 percent in 2020 and by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The lower rate of decline in the quarter compared to the rest of the year was attributed to “sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones,” according to Gartner’s Anshul Gupta.
Samsung saw an overall decline in smartphone sales throughout 2020 of 14.6 percent, though the company still remained the top smartphone seller across the year, regardless of Apple’s Q4 victory. Gartner notes that Samsung is facing fierce competition in many markets from Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo—all of which grew during the year.
At the same time, a beleaguered Huawei saw the biggest sales drop of the year. Its sales fell 24.1 percent. Gupta said that 2021’s smartphone sales will be driven by adoption of 5G phones outside of China.
Not all iPhone 12 models sold equally, however. We reported earlier this month that the iPhone 12 mini moved considerably fewer units than the iPhone 12 or even the iPhone 12 Pro—bad news for lovers of small phones. Nonetheless, some analysts and leakers predict the mini size will return in the iPhone 13 lineup later this year.
Listing image by Samuel Axon