Many a battle have taken place since Apple introduced the original iPhone in 2007, a device that, regardless of where yours or our loyalties lie, has admittedly championed the modern vision of what a smartphone is and could be. But quibbling over which brand is better seems only natural, seeing as the size of the smartphone industry has been keeping handset manufacturers salivating for a good six years now. Said in simple, worldly terms, the stakes are so high, that brands as a rule haven't shied away from recruiting fans to carry the company's torch for them.
At PhoneArena we recognize that our readers differ vastly in both background and personal tastes, much the same way we do – you'll be surprised at the diversity of devices that are being chauffeured around in somebody's pocket at the office. But we also have to recognize cold, hard data, because at the end of the day, market feedback remains the most unbiased and objective way, that we know of, to gauge consumer preferences, although, we have to concede – a fair degree less telling of quality.
Cold, hard data, precisely, is what we have in store for you today. Courtesy of ABI Research, this latest report on the top worldwide handset makers paints a telling picture of where the smartphone world is going, who's leading the charge, who the losers are, and of course – light a candle on a few sneaky contenders who might have a coup in mind.
If the above has you at all interested, then you should head straight for our slideshow below. Note that the information below is based on shipments volume that has entered the retail channel, and not direct sales to customers. Moreover, the data includes both smartphone and feature phones combined, but these will be broken down into two categories.
Top 14 phone makers worldwide
Top 14 phone makers worldwide
1. Q2 2013 by OEM market share (numbers have been rounded up to the higher value)
Nothing seems able to shake up Samsung's firm grip on the phone industry – the South Korea-based giant is comfortably leading the race. Nokia is second, but as the data will demonstrate later, this is largely because the Finnish legend is the leader in feature phone sales. These are especially popular in developing regions of the world where even cheap smartphones have a hard time penetrating a market made up of people who, for the most part, have a very limited disposable income. With that in mind, don't be surprised that Apple occupies the third spot – the Cupertino-based premium manufacturer sells smartphones only, a category in which it's actually only second to Samsung.
More broadly, it's interesting to note just how much Chinese brands are pushing the race to the bottom, with relatively obscure OEMs, such as CoolPad and even Xiaomi looking to take a piece of the humongous home market.
2. Time graph of phone shipments (both feature and smart) by OEM
Before we even began trying to make sense of the seemingly chaotic graph, out attention was immediately drawn to the spectacular fall of Nokia. From a peak of about 125 million shipments in Q4 2010, to half of that today. As if reversed, Samsung's fortunes have gone the opposite way – the manufacturer has been on a steady growth track as if following a prescribed trend.
3. Smartphone shipments for Q2 2013 by OEM
Extrapolated from the data from ABI Research, the table to your left ranks the OEMs by the volume of shipped smartphones (to the retail channel). As we mentioned earlier, feature phones have played an enormous part in helping Nokia take the spot as the second largest phone maker. Unfortunately for the Finnish company, when smartphones are concerned, they fall all the way down to the 9th spot.
Both BlackBerry and HTC have been consistently cited for their financial troubles, but the general consensus is that the Canadian manufacturer is in a much stickier predicament. It is, therefore, interesting to note that despite this, the company formerly known as RIM still outsells Taiwan-based HTC.
4. Q2 2013 shipments by handset type
While Nokia's smartphone business is looking to be doing better by the day, there's no denying that it is the company's feature phone business that's been keeping it afloat for the past few years.
The story for Samsung is completely different – although it shipped less feature phones than Nokia this quarter, the Seoul-based manufacturer has sold 10 devices for every one that Nokia did in terms of smartphone shipments.
Another key point to take home is that while feature phones nevertheless remain a worthy consideration, it doesn't seem like newcomers to the handset business are at all interested in it – even Sony and Motorola, with their rich and extensive history in the segment have all but abandoned it.
5. Overall smartphone shipments vs. shipments of feature phones
Just two weeks ago
, the world saw smartphone shipments overtake those of feature phones for the first time in history. And though, as we said, smartphones continue to be out of reach for a big chunk of people worldwide, aforementioned manufacturers such as Xiaomi have put pressure on the price barrier by introducing extremely affordable smartphones with very respectable specs
. Of course, whether that means that feature phones are headed for extinction remains to be seen. If we had to venture a guess, though, we'd probably say something along the lines of: not any time soon.