Samsung and Huawei led smartphone market in 2019; iPhone 11 dominated Q4

Samsung and Huawei led smartphone market in 2019; iPhone 11 dominated Q4
The global smartphone market has been in decline for quite some time, but the latest report from Counterpoint Research shows some signs of recovery and suggests 2020 could be a very good year.

Global smartphone shipments in 2019 stood at 1.486 billion units, down 1% year-on-year from 1.505 billion. The fourth quarter accounted for 408 million, up almost 3.5% compared to the year-ago quarter.

There's no catching Samsung in the smartphone market

Samsung dominated the entire smartphone market, as per usual, with huge shipments of 296.5 million units throughout 2019. The number represents growth of 1.5% when compared to the 291.8 million devices it sold a year earlier and helped increase market share from 19% to 20%.

Counterpoint says the company’s success is largely down to the revamped Galaxy A series. The latter has proven extremely popular across India and Europe and continues to grow in the United States, where consumers typically favor more expensive flagship models over mid-range devices. 

There’s no word on how the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 lineups performed in comparison to their predecessors, but Counterpoint did point out Samsung’s early success in the 5G market – it shipped 6.7 million devices in 2019. 

As for the fourth quarter, Samsung accounted for 17% of the market thanks to shipments of 70 million units. But despite an increase of 200,000 sales, the company slipped down into second place behind arch-rival Apple.

Huawei's slow decline has officially started

Huawei officially became the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer last year with 238.5 million sales between January and December 2019. The company accounted for 16% of the market and experienced annual growth of 16.1%, but how long Huawei can retain its title is up for debate.

As noted by Counterpoint Research in today’s press release, over 60% of Huawei’s smartphone shipments happened in China last year thanks to an increased focus on the market. This is certainly an impressive feat, but it ultimately masked a worrying trend in Europe and other international markets.
Since the US trade ban was implemented back in May, Huawei has focused on selling older smartphones with Google services outside of China. But now that these devices are aging and competition is growing, the company is struggling to maintain numbers.

The impact of US sanctions started to show during the final quarter of 2019 when shipments stood at 56 million units. While still impressive, the results ultimately represent a decrease of 6%, which in turn pushed the company’s market share down to 14%.

How the company performs in 2020 will largely depend on the US trade ban. If lifted, Samsung could once again face losing its title, but if it continues the brand's decline in international markets could be unstoppable.

Apple was the number one brand in Q4 2019

Apple finished in third place after experiencing an extremely tough year caused by weaker-than-anticipated demand for the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. It shipped 196.2 million iPhones and held a market share of 13% in 2019, down from 206.3 million and 14% the previous year.

Fortunately for Apple, the company managed to finish 2019 on a high by becoming the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer for the first time since Q4 2017. Counterpoint believes this was primarily down to the iPhone 11 series, which continues to beat expectations.

The Silicon Valley-based entity shipped an impressive 72.9 million iPhones between October and December, an increase of 10.6% over the 65.9 million iPhones it sold twelve months earlier. This boosted the brand’s market share up to 18%. 

Xiaomi and Motorola continued to grow, LG doesn't stop shrinking

Following Samsung, Huawei, and Apple in fourth place was Xiaomi with shipments of 124.5 million units. Fifth and sixth, on the other hand, were occupied by sister brands Oppo and Vivo with 119.8 million and 113.7 million shipments each. 

In an extremely distant seventh place was Lenovo, which includes Motorola. The brands keep slowly creeping up the chart and managed to ship a combined 39.6 million smartphones last year. 

LG, on the other hand, occupied the eighth position on the list with 29.2 million shipments, down massively from 40.8 million in 2018. Unless something drastic changes, the company could fall out of the top ten by the end of this year, following in the footsteps of Sony and HTC. 

The final two brands were Realme, which was created as a subsidiary of Oppo, and Tecno.



17. Chinda3

Posts: 41; Member since: Mar 14, 2014

The article should have BBK the parent company of Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, Realme in third place on smartphones shipped. 233.5 million smartphones sold shipped in 2019 (that doesn't include the OnePlus & Reallme smartphones sold) puts BBK in third place only 3 million behind Huawei.

19. Poptart2828

Posts: 519; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

BBK and Huawei have done this without needing the US market. Pretty incredible. The best part is all their flagship phones and most mid range play nice with North American lte bands.

24. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

I said above that I wish BBK would market their brands as “ BBK”. That way the tech sites that report on them individually would learn to group them together. The BBK brands and Huawei are putting out some amazing smartphones.

13. Poptart2828

Posts: 519; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Xiaomi needs to drop that mi mix alpha onto our laps soon. Need it in my hands asap. Their 2019 models were a little underwhelming cept for the mi note 10. Oppo has the Reno models which won me over with their looks and performance. Can't wait to get my hands on the find series coming up in the next month or so

4. midan

Posts: 3272; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Situation for Huawei sounds really worrying, i don't know what to say about this because i like how well and surprising growth they made in these years and made it possible which most companies are dreaming of. With all the big players already in the market, they found their way to became from no-name (outside China) brand to very big brand and collecting good brand name, especially in EU. And now they are losing it as fast as they gained it. Is Huawei victim here or not, very hard to say because we don't know much about the case, yet the consequences are very big.

18. Chinda3

Posts: 41; Member since: Mar 14, 2014

Midan pal all tech companies spy, USA companies are the worst at it! Apple, Google, Microsoft they have all done it and it won't be the last time. The US government spy's on China just as much as the Chinese spy on the USA. Huawei is being used as a scapegoat for Trump American government because America is falling far behind China in technology. China is already the second biggest economy. Plus the Chinese government is the most cash rich, doesn't have the enormous debt the US government have. Within the next decade China will overtake America as the world's biggest economy......

23. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

And those reasons, in a nutshell, are why the U.S. has fabricated this witch-hunt against Huawei. Solely to stifle them because the U.S. can’t compete with them in terms of networking capabilities.

25. Venom

Posts: 4109; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Oh sure, who can compete with the trade secrets stealing China? It's not propaganda when there's smoke from the fire.

28. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

It’s BS political propaganda and you still haven’t provided any proof that Huawei is spying on behalf of the Chinese government. Even the Pentagon in the U.S. has blocked further restrictions on Huawei. Further proof that this all just a witch hunt by the U.S. government against Huawei.

3. magnaroader

Posts: 75; Member since: Feb 25, 2016

Who the heck is Tecno?

10. User123456789 unregistered

From Hong Kong

12. CrapGame

Posts: 58; Member since: Nov 29, 2019

Tecno and Infinix have the largest market share in Africa by far and are owned by Transsion Holdings from Hong Kong. They specialize in low to midrange phones, along the lines of Xiaomi's Redmi line, that are actually pretty good.

2. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

The top 6 global smartphones OEM’s remain the same. The positions can become interchangeable, given favorable conditions for a few of them at any given time. Samsung, Huawei and Apple are really putting their best foot forward with their continued dominance of the smartphone market! Samsung’s midrange A series line are one of the two creams of the crop for midrange smartphones currently. Like Huawei and other Asian smartphone OEM’s, they’ve been producing the most feature rich flagships on the market today. Huawei will be facing some tough times ahead, but I do believe that their sales in China will grow at the expense of o Chinese OEM’s, which could allow them to keep their #2 spot globally overall. They will suffer a loss in sales internationally due to the ban, but how much remains to be seen, especially with the way they’ve been pushing their own mobile services and apps, and pushing for developers on a region by region basis. Their Honor brand is the other cream of the crop when it comes to midrange smartphones. Apple has truly impressed me and won me over as a huge fan of their latest smartphones, the iPhone 11 series. These smartphones are fantastic! I now use an iPhone 11 Pro Max as my primary daily driver, with my current secondary smartphone of the Android flavor. And while Apple has impressively gained the #2 spot for Q4 sales (only), it wasn’t enough to topple Huawei and take back the global #2 spot for the entire year. Still, if Apple plans on releasing a midrange $400 iPhone with the flagship A13 Bionic SoC and camera that matches the main cam on the iPhone 11 series, we could very well see it dominate the midrange smartphone segment, and pose a real threat to Huawei’s #2 spot overall. I have to note that BBK’s brands (Oppo, Vivo RealMe) occupy the 5th, 6th, and 9th spots on the charts globally. They’ve been growing and have entered or are looking to enter markets outside of China, like the European market, and have a presence in India, the second largest smartphone market in the world. If we combine their market share, BBK is actually the #2 smartphone OEM, just passing Huawei, but BBK doesn’t market them under their own name. *Long winded comment over* Lol.

9. User123456789 unregistered

One Plus never makes to the list. A proof that flagships cheaper than $550 (previous generations) are no popular compared to those more expensive. Huawei and Samsung sell more flagships than Xiaomi, OnePlus and Honor , despite costing 2x or more.

14. CrapGame

Posts: 58; Member since: Nov 29, 2019

OnePlus does make the list in a way since it's basically a rebranded Oppo/Vivo. Meanwhile this list just shows BBK is still No. 2 in the world.

22. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. I wish BBK would market their brands as “Oppo by BBK, Vivo by BBK”, etc.

21. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

High priced flagships are most sought after in the U.S. only. Midrange to low end Android smartphones far outsell expensive flagships, so I don’t know where you are getting your information from. Samsung and Huawei outsell OnePlus with their flagships because they are both much more well known worldwide than OnePlus is, with more resources and marketing. If OnePlus were as well known as them both, with the marketing and resources to match, their flagships would either match or outsell them due to the lower price. The same goes for Xiaomi. Honor is counted among Huawei.

26. Vancetastic

Posts: 1965; Member since: May 17, 2017

I think you just said something about Americans, and man is it true!

27. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

Most Americans are vain and mostly go for expensive flagships as some sort of status symbol or something to bolster their egos. They often feel the need to “one up” someone else, like everything is a competition.

29. Vancetastic

Posts: 1965; Member since: May 17, 2017

I think it's telling that iPhone cases have a cutout so you can see that all-important Apple logo.

30. cevon3239

Posts: 204; Member since: Jan 01, 2020

As an American, I don't buy phones to impress anyone or to be in some crowd or group. Americans are vain? Really? Its usually in Asian countries where brands are status symbols. Some brands in the US are such, but phones aren't one of those. Not all Americans have egos. It's usually people from other countries who are insecure. Especially Europe. That's why we left them.

31. meanestgenius

Posts: 23075; Member since: May 28, 2014

Your anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean a thing, techie. Yup. They are. America uses brands as status symbols on the regular: Apple, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz.... Yes, phones are. Apple. Point out where I said “all”. Try actually reading what I typed, techie. And it’s Americans that are mostly insecure. I don’t care who left what. It’s not my concern.

1. Papa_Ji

Posts: 928; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

ios is shrinking.... There is no reason to chose a IOS device over android ones... So called secure.....

8. tbreezy

Posts: 275; Member since: Aug 11, 2019

iOS still makes the most money for developers and Apple still take the lions share of profit, LOL. Android takes nothing but share which does not mean anything as the OEMs don’t make money anyway

15. Macready

Posts: 1832; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Samsung brings home a few billion dollars profit every quarter from its mobile division. In which universe is that the equivalent of "don't make money"? Check your monthly income for reference.

16. irwan92

Posts: 57; Member since: Feb 12, 2013

Are you the owner of those companies? So why do you backing up those companies by saying apple makes most money bla bla bla.. its the company get the benefit but us as consumers get nothing. So are you saying a company gain much money from consumers is good? Yes its good for the company but not for us as we have to pay more

20. raky_b

Posts: 460; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

And that makes you happy, why?

11. gadgetpower

Posts: 333; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

No wonder why people with high regards in privacy and security prefer an iphone over android. Even android executives uses iphone as their primary phone.

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