Apple Edges Out Samsung to Become Top Global Phonemaker

Photo of author

By Rob Leung

In a landmark shift in the global smartphone industry, Apple has now claimed the title of the world’s biggest phonemaker, toppling Samsung from the lead for the first time in 12 years. This significant change in the market dynamics has Apple seizing the lion’s share of the global smartphone market.

Photo Credit: Nutmos/Shutterstock.

According to the latest data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), Apple accounted for more than a fifth of phones shipped last year, establishing a new dominance in the market. In comparison, Samsung held 19.4% of the market share, with Chinese phonemakers Xiaomi, OPPO, and Transsion trailing behind.

Despite the overall decline in smartphone sales, largely due to many people upgrading during the pandemic, Apple’s performance stood out. The IDC reports a total of almost 1.2 billion smartphones sold last year, a drop of more than 3% from the previous year and the lowest in a decade. This downturn reflects consumers’ tightened purse strings amid economic challenges and high interest rates. Yet, experts are optimistic about a market recovery this year.

Apple’s rise to the top is particularly noteworthy. “Not only is Apple the only player in the Top 3 to show positive growth annually, but also bags the number 1 spot annually for the first time ever,” said Nabila Popal of the IDC. This growth is achieved “despite facing increased regulatory challenges and renewed competition from Huawei in China, its largest market.” Huawei’s recent advancements in making its own chips after being banned from buying chips using US technology have intensified the competition.

Apple’s strategy also includes offers to trade in old models and interest-free financing plans, which have been key in driving demand for its premium devices.

Meanwhile, Samsung faces a slump. The company, once the world’s largest maker of memory chips, smartphones, and televisions, has warned of an expected drop in profits as global demand for consumer electronics remains weak. Additionally, Samsung is competing with cheaper Android models like Transsion and Xiaomi, which are increasingly popular among price-conscious consumers and in emerging markets.

The IDC also highlights that the smartphone market is entering a “very interesting time,” with a growing number of Android-providers splintering the market and a shift in customer preferences towards foldable phones and AI capabilities.