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iPhone shipments could have reached record levels in Q1 2020 were it not for COVID-19: Gartner


After seven consecutive quarters of decline, the smartphone market was finally showing signs of recovery in Q3 2019. Things were expected to get better this year with the onslaught of 5G-enabled smartphones. But then, COVID-19 happened. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have wreaked havoc on the economy. Many people have been laid off and others fear a similar fate. And in these testing times, smartphones do not seem to be a priority for most consumers.
 
According to analytics company Gartner, the smartphone industry experienced its worst decline ever in the first three months of the year because of the pandemic. With the exception of Xiaomi, all top 5 vendors saw their shipments slide during the quarter. 

Apple could have beaten Huawei in Q1 if things were different 

Overall, sales slumped 20 percent year over year in Q1 2020 to 299 million units. Samsung saw a steep decline of nearly 23 percent when compared to the same period last year. Part of the reason is its inefficient online channel. The silver lining here is that the decline could have been a lot worse if Samsung had a prominent presence in China. With total shipments of 55 million units, the company remained the top vendor in Q1. 

Huawei was the worst hit, with sales tumbling 27 percent year on year to 42.5 million units. It doesn’t help that things are already not going well for the company, with its access to US-origin hardware and software cut off
Apple fared better than the top two manufacturers. It’s sales decreased 8 percent during Q1 2020. Apple was off to a good start before the coronavirus struck, thanks to its new lineup. Gartner thinks that iPhone sales would have reached a record level in Q1 if the pandemic had not happened. Although supply-side disruptions, store closures, and declining consumer spending turned the tide in February, online sales and resumption of manufacturing helped the company recover to some extent in March.

Apple is already within striking distance of the number 2 spot and maybe if things were normal, it would have surpassed Huawei in Q1. 

Xiaomi’s sales increased 1.4 percent from January through March and Gartner attributes that to robust shipments of Redmi phones in global markets and a strong online presence.

Gartner had previously said that it expects smartphone shipments to decrease by 14.6 percent this year.

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