Samsung ships most smartphones in CY 2019, Huawei surpasses Apple: Counterpoint Research

By Xite - January 31, 2020
Counterpoint Research has reported that global smartphone market returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2019, with Apple gaining the top spot in the number of shipments. Huawei surpassed Apple to....

In the calendar year (CY) 2019, Samsung remained the top brand and Huawei leapfrogged Apple to take the second spot in terms of smartphone shipments, Counterpoint Research has said in its latest report. The market researcher also noted that the global smartphone market declined by 1 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in CY 2019, making it the second consecutive year of the smartphone market's decline.    

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, the decline, however, was less than in 2018 (4 per cent YoY). Samsung shipped 296.5 million smartphones in CY 2019, capturing 20 per cent of the global market share. The South Korean company was followed by Huawei, Apple, Xiaomi, and Oppo. What’s interesting is that despite the US sanctions, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the second-largest brand in 2019.

CY2019 Counterpoint

Owing to an aggressive push in the Chinese market, Huawei shipped 238.5 million smartphones globally (16 per cent market share). In China, Huawei achieved almost 40 per cent market share, which accounted for over 60 per cent of Huawei’s total shipments. However, outside China, Huawei is trying to continue selling its older devices. Counterpoint Research says that Huawei smartphones with its own operating system would make it almost impossible for the company to compete with Android anywhere outside China.

‘There have been growing tensions among several countries that have impacted the smartphone market. For example, the US pressure on Huawei and tensions between Japan and Korea that led to uncertainties in the memory market. Supply chains have been impacted, causing various companies to rethink their strategies and reduce their dependence on a single market,’ Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, noted. With a 13 per cent share, Apple shipped 196.2 million smartphones in CY 2019. Xiaomi shipped 124.5 million handsets (8 per cent share), and Oppo shipped 119.8 million devices (8 per cent share).

Q4 2019 Counterpoint

While talking about the fourth quarter, the market research firm noted that the smartphone market grew 3 per cent YoY, indicating signs of a recovery. After two years, Apple was placed at the top spot in the global smartphone market. Its high shipment in the quarter was driven by the iPhone 11 series which beat the company’s expectations. iPhone revenues were up year-on-year for the first time since September 2018. 

Apple shipped 72.9 million smartphones and captured 18 per cent market share. Samsung followed with a 17 per cent share and 70 million smartphone shipment. Huawei (56 million smartphones, 14 per cent share), Xiaomi (32.7 million smartphones, 8 per cent share), and Vivo (31.5 million smartphones, 8 per cent share) complete the top five.

Key Takeaways:

Smartphone brands changed their strategies in 2019 to gain more market share. For example, Samsung revamped its A series to grab more chunk of the market in the mid-segment, Apple launched iPhone 11 at a lower price than its predecessor, and Chinese OEMs further expanded in new markets like Europe. The market also saw 5G and 5G-capable devices. Apart from that, smartphone makers also brought innovations like foldable displays, punch hole displays, higher resolution cameras, high refresh rate displays, in-display sensors, optical zoom, and super-fast charging.

oneplus 5G jpg

‘2019 also saw the deployment and initial adoption of 5G, especially in the US, Europe, China, and Korea. With chipset players, operators, and OEMs preparing aggressively for 2020 and working towards bringing the prices of 5G down, the foundation for the 2020 growth has already been laid. The transition from 4G to 5G in the developed markets and the continued transition from 3G to 4G, feature phones to smartphones, and upgrades will lead the smartphone market to grow in the coming year,’ Research Analyst Abhilash Kumar added.

Market Outlook

  • The top five brands captured 66 per cent of the market in 2019 compared to 65 per cent in 2018 and 62 per cent in 2017.
  • Samsung remained flat during 2019 Q4 while grew 2 per cent YoY for CY 2019. The South Korean giant was one of the leading players in 5G in 2019, and it shipped over 6.5 million 5G capable devices in the last 12 months.
  • Apple iPhone shipments grew 11 per cent YoY during the Q4 2019. The dual-camera, and the lower pricing of the iPhone 11 than the iPhone XR at the same point last year, helped propel the sales of the former. Apple’s Service revenue grew 17 per cent YoY in 4Q 2019.
  • Realme remained the fastest growing brand during the quarter (163 per cent YoY), as well as in the year (453 per cent YoY).
  • Realme’s closest competitor Xiaomi registered very fast growth in 4Q (28 per cent YoY).
  • 5G smartphones contributed to 1 per cent of global smartphone shipments in 2019.
  • Tags
  • OnePlus
  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • iPhone 11
  • Vivo
  • Oppo
  • XIaomi
  • Realme