Samsung, Huawei, and Apple smartphone sales declined in Q1 2020, but Xiaomi grew

Samsung, Huawei, and Apple smartphone sales declined in Q1 2020, but Xiaomi grew
The global smartphone market plummeted 13% in the first quarter to below 300 million units for the first time in six years. Counterpoint Research attributes this to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the signs of recovery seen in late 2019 and severely affected demand in China.

Samsung suffered heavily at the beginning of 2020 

Samsung continued to lead the global smartphone market eight years after inheriting the coveted number one title from Nokia. Between January and March 2020, the South Korean giant shipped 51 million devices and accounted for 20% of the market.

These numbers are certainly impressive but do represent a steep decline of 18% from the year-ago quarter when Samsung reported 71 million smartphone sales and a market share of 21%.

Although not specified by Counterpoint, the decline is believed to be partially related to the Galaxy S20 series launch. The new flagships were poorly received due to their high prices and have further suffered from the impact of the pandemic.

Counterpoint also believes the low-end smartphone segment will be the most affected by the pandemic this year. Samsung relies heavily on this market for sales volume, another factor that played a role in the decline.

Huawei continued in second place

Despite the severe headwinds in China throughout the quarter and the impact on international sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing US trade ban, Huawei managed to finish the quarter in second place behind Samsung.

The company shipped 49 million smartphones during the quarter thanks to an unexpected increase in China – it was the only major manufacturer to report growth in the region – that helped slightly offset declining international sales.

Unfortunately, sales were still down 17.1% year-over-year, a little higher than the industry average. The bright side is that its market share held steady at 17%.

Over half of smartphone shipments for Huawei now come from China and, although the company is expected to remain strong in the region moving forward, a bigger decrease is expected in the second quarter because of collapsing demand in Europe and weaker interest in newer Huawei products.

Apple performed surprisingly well during the quarter

Apple performed relatively well throughout the quarter thanks to an extremely strong January in China and higher sales elsewhere until the pandemic started affecting demand across Europe and the US in late March. 

The Tim Cook-led company reportedly shipped 40 million iPhone units during the three-month period, down 5% from the 42 million units it shipped twelve months earlier. As Apple itself confirmed yesterday, though, iPhone revenues were down 7% for the same period.

The small sales decrease actually led to an increase in market share from 12% to 14% for the quarter. If demand for the iPhone SE proves strong and Huawei experiences another big drop in the second quarter, Apple could soon be within touching distance of regaining its number two title.

Xiaomi and Realme were the highlights

Following in fourth and seventh place respectively were Xiaomi and Realme, which are the highlights of today’s report. Both manufacturers reported growth despite the global pandemic thanks to strong performance in India. 

Xiaomi grew 7% year-on-year to 29.7 million smartphone shipments and a 10% market share. Realme, on the other hand, experienced explosive growth of 157% which led to shipments of 7.2 million units and a 2% market share. 

Filling in the gaps between Xiaomi and Realme were Oppo and Vivo. These companies shipped 22.3 million, down 12%, and 21.6 million, down 9.6%, smartphones each and both accounted for 8% of the global market. 

Motorola and LG might soon fall out of the top 10

Completing the list are Lenovo-owned Motorola and LG respectively. The former shipped 6 million units and accounted for 2% of the global smartphone market, down from 9.5 million and 3% a year earlier, whereas the latter sold 5 million devices and held a 2% market share, down from 6.5 million units in Q1 2019.

Unless their situations improve, both manufacturers could soon fall out of the top 10 and get relegated to the 'others' category like Sony and HTC. 

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