Apple’s iPhones surpassed Samsung devices to become the best-selling smartphone devices last year, ending the South Korean firm’s 13-year reign at the top.
This marks the first time since 2010 that a company other than Samsung has held the top spot, signifying a major shift in the landscape of the largest consumer electronics market.
Apple reported 234.6 million shipments with a one-fifth market share overall, while Samsung reported 226.6 million shipments with a share of 19.4%, data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) showed.
Xiaomi, Oppo, and Transsion made up the rest of the smartphone sellers in the top five.
The global smartphone market, meanwhile, remained sluggish last year, with shipments declining by 3.2% year-on-year to 1.17 billion units.
“While we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players such as Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, the biggest winner is clearly Apple,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team.
Apple’s unprecedented year-long success over Samsung suggests that the company has navigated the industry slump more effectively than rivals.
This triumph can be attributed to the enticing trade-in offers and financing options driving consumers towards the pricier iPhones, Popal said.
Ryan Reith, group vice-president at IDC, said a more dynamic landscape can be expected in the coming years.
“Huawei is back and making inroads quickly within China. Brands like OnePlus, Honor, Google, and others are launching very competitive devices in the lower price range. And foldables and increased discussions around AI capabilities on smartphones are gaining traction. Overall, the smartphone space is headed towards a very interesting time,” Reith said.
In China, Huawei sold 1.6 million units of its Mate 60 Pro phone in just six weeks, according to Counterpoint Research. About 400,000 units of those were sold in the period where Apple had just released the iPhone 15.
A lukewarm reception for the iPhone 15 in China, Apple’s biggest market, amid renewed pressure from Huawei couldn’t derail its overall momentum.
“All this despite facing increased regulatory challenges. Apple’s ongoing success and resilience is in large part due to the increasing trend of premium devices, which now represent over 20% of the market,” Popal said.
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