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European smartphone market rebounds in Q1 after difficult 2020

Saf Malik
April 29, 2021

Counterpoint Research suggests increased competition

The European smartphone market appears to be on the road to recovery according to Counterpoint Research.

European smartphone sales grew 6 per cent annually in Q1 2021, however ongoing challenges across the region means the market is still down slightly on 2019 levels. 

The market was helped by new device launches from major vendors who continue to fight for market share vacated by Huawei. 

Samsung took the top spot for the quarter, having regained the top spot from Apple. However, Apple still leads in major markets including France, Germany and the UK.

Xiaomi impressed in Southern Europe and overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor in Spain. The Chinese firm also took second place in Italy at the expense of Apple. Xiaomi now accounts for a fifth of smartphone sales in Europe, almost tripling its market share from 18 months ago. 

Counterpoint Research associate director Jan Stryjak said: “Q1 2021 was a prime example of the intensely competitive nature of the European smartphone market. January saw Apple as the clear leader following its most successful device launch ever

“Samsung rebounded in February on the back of strong sales of its latest flagship Galaxy S21 series and popular Galaxy A series, and then Xiaomi reached its highest market share in Europe ever in March thanks to the launch of its own flagship Mi11 devices. OPPO, OnePlus, Realme and Vivo also continue to grow strongly, with most having launched new devices in the quarter.”

Counterpoint Research director Peter Richardson added: “The strong momentum in Q4 2020 carried over to 2021, and an improving COVID-19 situation thanks to accelerating vaccination programmes will lay the foundation for a full year recovery. 

“The growing market will also see increased competition among vendors: Samsung and Apple both improved on their market share in Q1 2021, and their leadership positions will come under renewed challenge by a host of Chinese entrants, led by a fast-moving Xiaomi, which reached 20% market share for the first time in March. Meanwhile, OPPO and Vivo are hoping their to-and-fro battle for leadership in their home market of China can lead to increased momentum in Europe too.”

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