Samsung rides Galaxy S23 series success to beat Apple in February smartphone sales

Samsung rides Galaxy S23 series success to beat Apple in February smartphone sales
Even though Samsung has been dominating the global smartphone market in terms of sales volume for a number of years now, the hierarchy of handset vendors tends to change at the very top practically every holiday season and then return to the status quo immediately after.

This end-of-the-year change unsurprisingly happened once again in 2022, when Apple was ranked first between October and December after sitting in second place from Q1 to Q3 behind arch-rival Samsung. 

There are no prizes for guessing what went down just prior to Q4 2022 that boosted Apple's market share over Samsung's figures, but it appears that the iPhone 14 family's popularity has finally subsided to reestablish the industry's "normal" order of things.

No clear Q1 winner yet

Yes, Samsung is back in first place, at least according to a new BusinessKorea report citing "sources in the financial investment industry and global market research firm Counterpoint Research on March 29." Because it's still March 31 at the time of this writing, Counterpoint's full Q1 2023 report is obviously not done yet, let alone ready to be published, so it remains to be seen who will win the quarter as a whole.

For now, we know that Samsung has managed to edge out Apple in February after the latter took home the January crown with relative ease. That leaves the door open for pretty much any result at the end of Q1, which... is not exactly good news for Samsung.

That's because it's extremely unlikely that the February 2023 champion will be able to replicate its Q1 2022 or Q1 2021 scores in Q1 2023, so even a narrow victory might feel like a loss for the Korea-based tech giant.

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung accounted for 22 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments between January and March 2021 and 23 percent during the first three months of the following year, but only 21.1 percent in February 2023 and an uncharacteristically modest 17.6 percent the previous month.

In comparison, Apple ended the opening quarter of 2021 with a 17 percent slice of the global smartphone sales pie, jumping to 18 percent in the first three months of last year and then 20.9 and 20.2 percent in January and February 2023 respectively.

This is clearly a very unfavorable trend for Samsung, although there is one big reason for the chaebol to remain optimistic.

The Galaxy S23 series is turning things around

Just like the iPhone 14 lineup made Apple the market's heavyweight champion of the world in Q4 2022, the very well-reviewed and evidently extremely popular Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, and S23 Ultra crucially helped Samsung recoup its title this February.

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The S23 family, remember, went up for pre-order on February 1 before starting to ship around the world on February 17, which was a little earlier than the S22 trio's launch schedule back in February 2022.

We'll have to wait and see how the Galaxy S23 trio performs in March (and beyond) before labeling it a huge box-office hit, but for the time being, all the signs are definitely positive albeit not exactly record-shattering.

Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo are once again sitting behind Samsung and Apple in third, fourth, and fifth places with 11.5, 8.9, and 8.2 percent market shares respectively for the month of February, and all three of these results... could certainly be better.

Xiaomi in particular seems to be struggling with unusually low demand after accounting for 14 and 12 percent of global smartphone shipments in Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 respectively. Of course, the industry in its entirety continues to be struggling, dropping 10 and 15 percent from January 2023 and February 2022 respectively for a February 2023 sales total of under 90 million units.

The Chinese, US, and Indian markets are all still in free fall, but although this new report lacks any mention of a potential recovery, many analysts and pundits are expecting sales to start (slowly) growing again in the very near future.
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