Samsung retakes the lead in global smartphone shipments from Apple during Q1

Samsung retakes the lead in global smartphone shipments from Apple during Q1
According to tech analysis firm Canalys, Samsung regained the top spot in the worldwide smartphone market during the first quarter of this year as it bunny-hopped over Apple. Thanks to the Q1 release of the flagship Galaxy S23 series, which includes the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung managed to top Apple by 1 percentage point as it accounted for 22% of global smartphone shipments during the three months.

Apple, which had been on top during Q4 of 2022, was next with a 21% slice of the pie. During the fourth quarter of 2022, when Apple was the top smartphone shipper, the iPhone manufacturer had its largest global market share of all time at 25%.

After Samsung and Apple, Xiaomi was third with an 11% share of first-quarter global smartphone shipments. Oppo was fourth with a 10% share with fellow BBK Electronics stablemate Vivo next at 8%. Altogether, global smartphone shipments declined 12% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2023; this was the fifth consecutive quarter with an annual decline in smartphone shipments.

Canalys Analyst Sanyam Chaurasia wrote, "The smartphone market's decline in the first quarter of 2023 was within expectations throughout the industry. The local macroeconomic conditions continued to hinder vendors' investments and operations in several markets. Despite price cuts and heavy promotions from vendors, consumer demand remained sluggish, particularly in the low-end segment due to high inflation affecting consumer confidence and spending."

Despite five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in global smartphone shipments, Canalys Analyst Toby Zhu sees some positive signs. "There have been improvements in demand for certain smartphone products and price bands," he said. "Furthermore, some smartphone vendors are becoming more active in production planning and ordering components. Canalys predicts that the inventory of the smartphone industry, irrespective of channel or vendor, can reach a relatively healthy level by the end of the second quarter of 2023."

Zhu adds, "It is still too early to predict the recovery of overall consumer demand. However, the sell-in volume of the global smartphone market is expected to improve due to the reduction in inventories in the next few quarters. In addition, vendors have focused more on innovations and raising production and channel efficiencies after a round of fluctuations, shifting from growing for volumes and shares to growing for quality. 5G popularization and foldable phones are also becoming the new driving forces in the industry."

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While Samsung might be glad to have taken back the top spot from Apple, it can't be too pleased that during the quarter it released its new flagship Galaxy S23 series, its lead over Apple was by the thinnest of margins. Compare that to the first quarter of 2022 when Samsung released the Galaxy S22 line and its lead over Apple was six percentage points (24% to 18%).

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