This marks the first time since 2016 that the iOS devices reached the number one spot in worldwide smartphone sales.
Worldwide smartphone sales declined 5% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest Gartner smartphone sales report. But thanks to a relatively strong fourth quarter sales surge, Apple managed to grab the top spot for the first time in five years.
Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020, according to Gartner.
Sales of 5G phones slowed down the decline
“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.
“Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”
The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot.
Samsung and Huawei have been fighting over the number one slot for some time. But Apple released four new iPhone 12 models last autumn. This helped Apple pass them both to capture 20.8% of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter.
Huawei sees a steep decline
Samsung saw a year-on-year decline of 14.6% in 2020. Still, this did not prevent it from retaining its number one global smartphone vendor position in full year results. Nonetheless, Samsung faced tough competition from regional smartphone vendors. For example, Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo grew more aggressive in global markets. In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five ranking to experience growth.
Huawei recorded the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors. This made it lose the number two position to Apple in 2020. The ban on use of Google applications on Huawei’s smartphones had an impact. The ban was detrimental to Huawei’s performance in the year and negatively affected sales.