Apple bounces back as global smartphone leader ahead of Samsung

Apple, a multinational technology company, has bounced back to its position as a global smartphone ahead of Samsung, having experienced a huge quarter for the first time in 5 years, due to Surging iPhone sales in the final three months of 2020 which pushed the global brand up as the world’s biggest smartphone maker, according to new research.

The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series boosted its record to double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot (see Table 1). The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016.

With the launched of its 5G in mid-October, Apple sold nearly 80 million smartphones in the final three months of 2020, a 15% increase on the same period the previous year.

The company also shipped its most iPhones ever to distributors in a single quarter, at 81.8 million, according to research published by Singapore-based Canalys late last month. By that measure, Apple has outperformed Samsung on fourth-quarter sales since 2017.

For Apple, the last three months of the year are often its strongest, as it usually introduces new iPhones in September, though this was delayed last year until October, due to disruptions of supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Samsung, on the other hand, usually updates its flagship Galaxy S phones in February, which helps to contribute to a much stronger first quarter performance for the brand, but this year, the company announced new models sooner than was expected with a month earlier.

Apple’s double-digit sales growth was achieved despite a shrinking market. Global sales of smartphones slipped 5.4% in the fourth quarter, according to Gartner, amid rising unemployment and weaker consumer spending because of the pandemic. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in 2020 compared to the previous year.


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