Samsung replaces Apple as the largest smartphone vendor, iPhone shipments fall nearly 10%


In context: Apple and Samsung have long been the two biggest smartphone vendors in the world, but they’ve regularly swapped the pole position over the past decade. While the iPhone-maker took top spot in the December 2023 quarter, the South Korean tech giant has now reportedly replaced it to become the largest smartphone vendor globally.

According to data from IDC, Apple shipped 50.1 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2024, giving it a 17.3 percent market share. During the same three months, Samsung shipped 60.1 million handsets, grabbing a 20.8 percent market share.

However, both companies saw a marked decline in overall shipments as Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Transsion and others grabbed a larger slice of the global smartphone pie. Samsung’s Q1 2024 shipments dropped 0.7 percent YoY, while Apple’s shipments dropped a much more substantive 9.6 percent.

Apple took the ‘largest smartphone vendor’ crown from Samsung in the final quarter of last year when it shipped 80.5 million iPhones, grabbing a 24.7 percent market share. Samsung only shipped 53 million devices during the quarter, garnering a 16.3 percent market share. Q4 2023 was the first full quarter after the launch of the iPhone 15 series, and when most Android buyers were eagerly awaiting the launch of the Galaxy S24 lineup.

Globally, the smartphone market grew 7.8 percent year-on-year in Q1 2024, with total shipments hitting 289.4 million units. The most gains were made by Transsion Holdings (with brands like Itel, Techno, and Infinix), which shipped 28.5 million units, an 84.9 percent jump over Q1, 2023. Xiaomi also did exceedingly well, grabbing the third spot with 40.8 million units to register a 33.8 percent growth YoY.

While Apple may be hoping that the launch of iPhone 16 will reverse the downtrend, analysts across the spectrum believe that the company may find it tough to convince people to upgrade from older iPhones.

According to JP Morgan, the upcoming series may not be as successful as some of its predecessors due to the lack of AI features. Renowned TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had also expressed similar sentiments earlier, saying that the lack of new features in the iPhone 16 may prevent it from becoming a runaway hit.

On the other hand, Samsung is riding high on the success of its Galaxy S24 series, thanks in part to the plethora of AI features. The company will be hoping that innovative AI tools like Circle to Search, Generative Photo Editing and Chat Assist will help it not only retain existing users, but gain new customers in the coming quarters.


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