Samsung takes the top spot for 2012 cell phone shipments, Nokia 2nd, Apple 3rd

Samsung takes the top spot for 2012 cell phone shipments, Nokia 2nd, Apple 3rd
The numbers are finally starting to come out for the mobile ecosystem, even though 2012 isn't quite over yet. IHS iSuppli has released its estimations for which cell phone manufacturers shipped the most devices in 2012, and for the first time in 14 years, Samsung has taken the top spot in cell phone shipments, pushing Nokia to 2nd place, and Apple held steady in 3rd place as far as total cell phone shipments, and 2nd in the smartphone segment.

According to the data, Samsung is expected to account for 29% of global cell phone shipments in 2012, with Nokia at 24%. This is almost a perfect reversal from last year when Nokia had 30% of cell phone shipments and Samsung had 24%. Impressively, Apple takes 3rd place on total cell phone shipments with 10%, even though Apple only makes smartphones, and no feature phones, unlike Samsung and Nokia. 

On the smartphone side of things, Samsung retains the top spot with 28% of global smartphone shipments, and that extends Samsung's lead over Apple, which held 20% of smartphone shipments. Last year, Samsung had 20% compared to Apple's 19%. The smartphone side also shows how Nokia lost its overall lead as it dropped from 16% of smartphone shipments in 2011 to just 5% in 2012. HTC and RIM also came in at 5% of smartphone shipments this year. 

The data also shows the general trends continuing to move towards smartphones. Global smartphone shipments are expected to rise by 35.5% for 2012, while overall cell phone shipments will increase by just 1%. This push by smartphones is expected to lead to 47% of the total cell phone shipments to be smartphones, which is up from 35% in 2011.

source: IHS iSuppli



1. androidisbaws

Posts: 74; Member since: Dec 17, 2012

Always knew Samsung was the best. Kind of weird the other two are up there considering they don't have any android phones.

8. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

It's the difference between the cell phone shipments numbers and smartphones. Nokia still ships a lot of feature phones, which gets it higher on the overall numbers.

12. androidisbaws

Posts: 74; Member since: Dec 17, 2012

Forgot feature phones existed haha, so used to smartphones. Their asha line is probably very popular in other countries, I'm thinking in an American mindset, need to change that :)

15. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Hey, it's my job to write about mobile tech, and I forget about feature phones all the time.

23. ncv144

Posts: 126; Member since: May 04, 2012

Asha is crazy wild in my country, still not as crazy as blackberry and lumia 610 (iPhone and S3 also)

35. jameshoe unregistered

Asha family, the world's most affordable cellphones Lumia family, the best Windows Phone products Nokia 808 PureView, the world's best camera smartphone Nokia 3310, the best-selling cellphone in 2001 Nokia Lumia 920, the best touchscreen smartphone

18. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

and you're a idiot. this is bout shipments not sales

21. nwright94 unregistered

Samsung wins both of those

26. androidisbaws

Posts: 74; Member since: Dec 17, 2012

I never called anyone any words, sounds like your a little flustered that Samsung is on top.

30. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Did you? From year ONE of the 14 years Samsung has been in the competition, you have always known Samsung to be the best??? From the Pre-Bada and Pre-Android era Samsung, you knew?? Boy, you must be old by now! Nothing will ever be the best when something better hits the shelves every month. Apple will never get the number 1 spot unless they decide to start producing phones in each segment (entry, mid and the high end, which they only have). I don't think that's likely... But here's the thing, it won't be difficult for Nokia to take that top spot again and it will be easy to knock Nokia off the spot AGAIN. Improvements, achievements, advancements in technology has taken competition to a certain level of unpredictablity. You're statement that you've always known Samsung to be the best is invalid.

2. omar98

Posts: 71; Member since: Aug 28, 2011

I think Next year Nokia will rise again in the smartphone battle as the top windows phone manufacturer which it is now

11. eisenbricher

Posts: 973; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

Yeah, Nokia will rise again. I'm talking based on facts that Nokia has made entry to huge Chinese market, signs are looking good. And the country which helped it reach the top spot always, India is yet to see the taste of WP8 lumias. I guess 620 will become pretty famous here.

22. erdpov

Posts: 67; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

it's going to fail because of Windows platform. The ms tiles are so boring. Nokia had a chance with its own platform, but now Nokia is Muppet of MS. If ms fails, Nokia will sink too.

25. omar98

Posts: 71; Member since: Aug 28, 2011

Wp8 is not a sign of failure its a beatiful OS which I really wanna get my hands on sadly there is no lumias in Egypt yet Till then Ill stick to the S2

36. jameshoe unregistered

you have no idea how live tiles looks easier and better than Android classic theme, with all-new design and features, Android has no way could over than WP but only its Play store

32. Dunknown

Posts: 84; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

Nokia is the top right now. Nokia has 82% of the global windows phone that is before the Lumia 920 and 820. Now i think it will be 90%. Go Nokia. I hope Nokia will review its glases next year like it was shown in the you tube

37. RobotMan

Posts: 145; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Not with WP.

3. amiaq

Posts: 509; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

oo ooo oooo the ifans will say one phone vs many. I say shut up!!

4. kaliil10

Posts: 146; Member since: May 16, 2012

The king of Mobile is back. Nokia

9. freebee269

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

the demise of Nokia has been greatly exaggerated. their stock is now over $4 up from $1.63 in july 2011.

5. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Samsung and Apple is talked about so often that I thought Nokia claimed 2nd place on top of Apple. I guess that's something else... smartphone wise, Nokia is dropping like a brick...

6. zaryab_hussain77

Posts: 104; Member since: Jun 30, 2011

SAMSUNG the true innovator !!

13. bbblader

Posts: 590; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Nokia is a true innovator too I mean c'mon the camera,city lens,Free navigation and one of the best screens :)

16. loyals

Posts: 129; Member since: Nov 10, 2012

i completely agree but they had problem with os before . it seems to be fine now with windows though. htc deserves better place, they make wounderful phones. build quality is way better than samsung.

31. MC1123

Posts: 1256; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

the only wrong thing that nokia did with its OS, symbian, is support!!! they dont support and follow the symbian foundation!!! SF offers a new symbian,UIQ, for modernization..but nokia decline the offering and go to the old s60! and that is a huge mistake! RIP symbian!! i will always love you!

7. TheLibertine

Posts: 484; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

Smartphone sales only would be quite interesting.

10. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I'd definitely like to see stats on sales rather than shipments.

14. Sailingmaster

Posts: 24; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

I thought that for the manufacturers, shipments _were_ sales.

20. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Nope, shipments are just devices sent to stores, and counts the devices that stay on the store shelves, unsold.

38. Sailingmaster

Posts: 24; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

But for Samsung, those are sales. They don't ship those devices to retailers and carriers on consignment. If it were a consignment based system, say like bookstores, VZW wouldn't have to discount poor sellers down to almost nothing to get them to move. They'd ship them back for refund. Anyone remember the deals that came with the purchase of a Palm Pre Plus or Pixi Plus? When Samsung says they've shipped 5 million Galaxy Note IIs, that means they've fulfilled orders for 5 million Galaxy Note IIs and shipped them to retailers and carriers. What I think we would all love to see, are aggregate sales numbers from the major retailers and carriers. That would give us numbers sold to end users. We won't get those.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.