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Canalys: Apple leads the way in Q4 for smartphone shipments, but Huawei drops out of top five

Paul Lipscombe
January 28, 2021

Samsung shipped the most smartphones during 2020, as overall market dropped seven per cent YoY

Apple shipped the most smartphones of any vendor in the final quarter of 2020, according to Canlays figures.

The Cupertino-based giant shipped 81.8 million units in Q4 2020, up four per cent year on year.

This figure is less than the 90.1 million shipments IDC has claimed Apple shipped for the quarter.

However there is no disputing Apple’s rise to the top following a record breaking final three months of the year.

Overall 359.6 million smartphones were shipped in the final quarter of last year, which despite the pandemic, was only down two per cent YoY.

Samsung shipped 62 million units in Q4 for second spot, followed by Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo in the top five.

However Huawei was a notably absent from the top five, following another turbulent year amid crippling US sanctions.

It’s the first time in six years that Huawei has fallen outside of the top five.

iPhone 12 success

Canalys analyst Vincent Thielke singled out the iPhone 12 for Apple’s success in the quarter.

“The iPhone 12 is a hit. Apple is better positioned than its competitors on 5G, being heavily skewed towards developed markets, and mobile operator sales channels. But it also made savvy moves behind the scenes to propel its sales and profitability.”

As for Huawei, the Chinese vendor shipped 32 million smartphones (including Honor) in Q4, with the US sanctions directly hurting Huawei.

And Canalys Research analyst Amber Li says Honor, which recently split from Huawei has big challenges ahead in order to define its own brand.

“Its decision to divest Honor, however, may prove vital, as Honor is not bound by the same restrictions and component supply is resuming.

“Despite this, Honor has a colossal challenge ahead. It needs to redefine the brand, from young demographics to address both premium and mass market.”

Samsung still on top

Overall the smartphone market declined seven per cent during 2020, with the global pandemic a key reason for this.

Samsung topped the overall charts for the year with 20pc market share and 255.6 million units, followed by Apple with 207.1 shipments and 16pc share.

Despite dropping out of the top five in the final quarter, Huawei held third with 188.5 million units and 15pc share.

However this was a significant drop from 2019, when the vendor sold 240.6 million smartphones, signalling a drop of 22pc.

Fellow Chinese brands Xiaomi and Oppo completed the top five, with 12pc and nine per cent market share respectively.

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