Samsung knocks Apple off the smartphone throne

  • The battle for the top spot in the smartphone market heats up
  • Apple loses its crown to Samsung, as it suffers a near 10% decline in shipments in the first quarter, according to IDC
  • Overall, the global market continues to grow, showing “a recovery is well underway”, the research house suggests

Samsung reclaimed the global smartphone market crown from its fierce rival Apple in the first quarter of 2024, during which the total volume of device shipments increased by 7.8%, according to IDC.  

Preliminary data from the research firm suggests that the South Korean company was the top smartphone vendor during the first three months of this year with a market share of 20.8%, having shipped a total of 60.1 million smartphones (down by just 0.7% year on year). 

Meanwhile, Apple, which became the number one global smartphone vendor for the first time in 2023, dropped to second spot in the first quarter with a 17.3% market share from the shipment of 50.1 million units (a 9.6% year-on-year decline).  

“While Apple managed to capture the top spot at the end of 2023, Samsung successfully reasserted itself as the leading smartphone provider in the first quarter,” noted Ryan Reith, group vice president of IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “While IDC expects these two companies to maintain their hold on the high end of the market, the resurgence of Huawei in China, as well as notable gains from Xiaomi, Transsion, Oppo/OnePlus, and Vivo will likely have both OEMs looking for areas to expand and diversify,” added Reith.

The top-five smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2024 were rounded out by Xiaomi (14.1% market share), Transsion (9.9%) and Oppo (8.7%), as the chart below shows. 

The positive overall news from the sector is that it appears to be back in growth mode. According to IDC’s current numbers, worldwide smartphone shipments during the first quarter increased by 7.8% year on year to 289.4 million units, making it the third consecutive quarter of growth which, as IDC pointed out, is “a strong indicator that a recovery is well underway”.

Still, the research house noted that the industry is still not fully out of the woods due to macroeconomic challenges in many markets. 

“The smartphone market is emerging from the turbulence of the last two years both stronger and changed,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team. “Firstly, we continue to see growth in value and average selling prices (ASPs) as consumers opt for more expensive devices knowing they will hold onto their devices longer. Secondly, there is a shift in power among the top-five companies, which will likely continue as market players adjust their strategies in a post-recovery world. Xiaomi is coming back strong from the large declines experienced over the past two years and Transsion is becoming a stable presence in the top five with aggressive growth in international markets,” she added.

IDC had previously expected global smartphone shipments to grow by 2.8% year over year to 1.2 billion units in 2024, followed by further annual increases in the low-single digits until 2028.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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