Biggest-ever drop in global smartphone sales

Smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2020 decreased by 20.2% year-on-year, according to data from Gartner.

This is an unprecedented decline which saw four of the world’s five most popular smartphone brands suffer significantly decreased sales.

“The coronavirus pandemic caused the global smartphone market to experience its worst decline ever,” said Gartner senior research analyst Anshul Gupta.

“Most of the leading Chinese manufacturers and Apple were severely impacted by the temporary closures of their factories in China and reduced consumer spending due to the global shelter-in-place.”

According to the report, Samsung had increased its inventory in the channel as it prepared for new launches, but the lockdown combined with its “inefficient online channel” led to weaker sales to end-users.

“COVID-19 negatively impacted Samsung’s smartphone sales during the quarter. However, the decline could have been much worse,” said Gupta.

“Its limited presence in China and the location of its manufacturing facilities outside of China prevented a steeper fall.”

Huawei suffers the most

The report found that of the five biggest smartphone brands, Huawei suffered the worst over the first quarter of 2020.

Huawei’s smartphone sales declined by 27.3% year-on-year, Gartner found.

However, it still managed to hold onto its spot as the second-biggest smartphone brand ahead of Apple.

“Huawei will have a challenging year,” said Gupta.

“It has developed the Huawei Mobile Service (HMS) ecosystem, but with the lack of popular Google apps and Google Play store, Huawei is unlikely to attract new smartphone buyers in international markets.”

Apple suffers – but not as much

While Apple’s sales also decreased, this was ‘only’ by 8.2% – which is a substantially lower drop than Samsung and Huawei experienced.

“Apple had a strong start to the year thanks to its new product line up that saw strong momentum globally,” said Gartner research vice president Annette Zimmermann.

“If COVID-19 did not happen, the vendor would have likely seen its iPhone sales reach record levels in the quarter.”

“Supply chain disruptions and declining consumer spending put a halt to this positive trend in February,” Zimmermann added.

She said that Apple’s ability to serve clients through its online stores and its production returning to near normal levels at the end of March helped it to recover some of its early momentum.

Global smartphone sales – Q1 2020
Vendor Q1 2020 Units (1,000s) Q1 2020 Market Share Q1 2019 Units (1,000s) Q1 2019 Market Share Growth
Samsung 55,333 18.5% 71,621 19.1% -22.7%
Huawei 42,499 14.2% 58,436 15.6% -27.3%
Apple 40,920 13.7% 44,569 11.9% -8.2%
Xiaomi 27,817 9.3% 27,424 7.3% 1.4%
Oppo 23,949 8% 29,589 7.9% -19.1%
Other 108,621 36.3% 143,279 38.2% -24.2%
Total 299,138 100% 374,917 100% -20.2%

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Biggest-ever drop in global smartphone sales