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Samsung and Huawei led smartphone market in 2019; iPhone 11 dominated Q4


The global smartphone market has been in decline for quite some time, but the latest report from Counterpoint Research shows some signs of recovery and suggests 2020 could be a very good year.


Global smartphone shipments in 2019 stood at 1.486 billion units, down 1% year-on-year from 1.505 billion. The fourth quarter accounted for 408 million, up almost 3.5% compared to the year-ago quarter.

There's no catching Samsung in the smartphone market


Samsung dominated the entire smartphone market, as per usual, with huge shipments of 296.5 million units throughout 2019. The number represents growth of 1.5% when compared to the 291.8 million devices it sold a year earlier and helped increase market share from 19% to 20%.


Counterpoint says the company’s success is largely down to the revamped Galaxy A series. The latter has proven extremely popular across India and Europe and continues to grow in the United States, where consumers typically favor more expensive flagship models over mid-range devices. 


There’s no word on how the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 lineups performed in comparison to their predecessors, but Counterpoint did point out Samsung’s early success in the 5G market – it shipped 6.7 million devices in 2019. 


As for the fourth quarter, Samsung accounted for 17% of the market thanks to shipments of 70 million units. But despite an increase of 200,000 sales, the company slipped down into second place behind arch-rival Apple.

Huawei's slow decline has officially started


Huawei officially became the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer last year with 238.5 million sales between January and December 2019. The company accounted for 16% of the market and experienced annual growth of 16.1%, but how long Huawei can retain its title is up for debate.


As noted by Counterpoint Research in today’s press release, over 60% of Huawei’s smartphone shipments happened in China last year thanks to an increased focus on the market. This is certainly an impressive feat, but it ultimately masked a worrying trend in Europe and other international markets.

 
Since the US trade ban was implemented back in May, Huawei has focused on selling older smartphones with Google services outside of China. But now that these devices are aging and competition is growing, the company is struggling to maintain numbers.


The impact of US sanctions started to show during the final quarter of 2019 when shipments stood at 56 million units. While still impressive, the results ultimately represent a decrease of 6%, which in turn pushed the company’s market share down to 14%.


How the company performs in 2020 will largely depend on the US trade ban. If lifted, Samsung could once again face losing its title, but if it continues the brand's decline in international markets could be unstoppable.

Apple was the number one brand in Q4 2019


Apple finished in third place after experiencing an extremely tough year caused by weaker-than-anticipated demand for the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. It shipped 196.2 million iPhones and held a market share of 13% in 2019, down from 206.3 million and 14% the previous year.


Fortunately for Apple, the company managed to finish 2019 on a high by becoming the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer for the first time since Q4 2017. Counterpoint believes this was primarily down to the iPhone 11 series, which continues to beat expectations.


The Silicon Valley-based entity shipped an impressive 72.9 million iPhones between October and December, an increase of 10.6% over the 65.9 million iPhones it sold twelve months earlier. This boosted the brand’s market share up to 18%. 

Xiaomi and Motorola continued to grow, LG doesn't stop shrinking


Following Samsung, Huawei, and Apple in fourth place was Xiaomi with shipments of 124.5 million units. Fifth and sixth, on the other hand, were occupied by sister brands Oppo and Vivo with 119.8 million and 113.7 million shipments each. 


In an extremely distant seventh place was Lenovo, which includes Motorola. The brands keep slowly creeping up the chart and managed to ship a combined 39.6 million smartphones last year. 


LG, on the other hand, occupied the eighth position on the list with 29.2 million shipments, down massively from 40.8 million in 2018. Unless something drastic changes, the company could fall out of the top ten by the end of this year, following in the footsteps of Sony and HTC. 


The final two brands were Realme, which was created as a subsidiary of Oppo, and Tecno.


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