Reality Dawns On Huawei As Smartphone Sales Slip


2020 may have been an unforgettable year for many in different ways but for Apple, it ended on a good note. The release of the iPhone 12 came as no surprise to many seeing as there were endless leaks. However, many people may have not expected the phone to be so good at what it does. So much so that Apple was able to sell the most phones they have ever sold in a single quarter. The same cannot be said for Huawei.

iPhone 12 is A Hit

According to Canalys, an independent analyst company, in Q4 2020, worldwide smartphone shipments reached 359.6 million units. It is a small decline of 2% year-on-year. However, the opposite accounts for Apple.

“The iPhone 12 is a hit,” says Canalys Analyst Vincent Thielke. “Apple is in a better position than its competitors on 5G. But it also made savvy moves behind the scenes to propel its sales and profitability. The omission of a power plug from the iPhone retail box, which reduces weight and size, is making logistics significantly more efficient. Especially amid the ongoing high cost of air freight due to the pandemic. The implementation of channel-centric growth may have bolstered demand for its entire range of iPhones.”

Huawei is a Bust

The company shipped its most iPhones ever in a single quarter, at 81.8 million units, up 4% against the previous year. Samsung took second place, shipping 62.0 million units for a -12% decline. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo complete the top five, with each seeing share gains from Huawei (including Honor).

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Xiaomi grew 31% to 43.4 million units, Oppo grew 15% to 34.7 million units, while Vivo grew 14% growth to 32.1 million. Huawei (including Honor) came in sixth place in Q4 2020 with 32.0 million smartphones shipped.

This is the first time in six years Huawei falls outside the global top five smartphone vendors. Samsung maintains the global leadership position, with 20% global market share, Apple comes in second place and Huawei (including Honor) remains at the top three.

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth: Q4 2020
Vendor Q4 2020 shipments (million) Q4 2020

Market share

Q4 2019 shipments (million) Q4 2019

Market share

Apple 81.8 23% 78.4 21% +4%
Samsung 62.0 17% 70.8 19% -12%
Xiaomi 43.4 12% 33.0 9% +31%
Oppo 34.7 10% 30.3 8% +15%
Vivo 32.1 9% 28.2 8% +14%
Others 105.5 29% 128.0 35%  -18%
Total 359.6 100.0% 368.6 100.0% -2%
Note: percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Source: Canalys estimates (sell-in shipments), Smartphone Analysis, January 2021

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth: Full-year 2020
Vendor 2020 shipments (million) 2020

Market share

2019 shipments (million) 2019

Market share

Samsung 255.6 20% 298.0 22% -14%
Apple 207.1 16% 198.1 14% +5%
Huawei (incl. Honor) 188.5 15% 240.6 18% -22%
Xiaomi 149.6 12% 125.5 9% +19%
Oppo 115.1 9% 120.2 9% -4%
Others 348.9 28% 384.3 28%  -9%
Total 1,264.7 100.0% 1,366.7 100.0% -7%
Note: percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Source: Canalys estimates (sell-in shipments), Smartphone Analysis, January 2021



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