Apple Surpassed Samsung as World's Largest Smartphone Maker in Fourth Quarter

Apple overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2020, a feat not achieved by Apple since 2016, according to market data by Gartner.

iPhone 12 Layout
In the final quarter of 2020, Apple sold 80 million new iPhones, largely driven by the launch of the first 5G-enabled iPhone series. Anshul Gupta, Senior Research Director at Gartner, says that 5G and improved camera features helped convince customers to upgrade to iPhone 12 models in the final quarter of the year.

Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.

Compared to 2019, Apple sold more than 10 million extra iPhones in the fourth quarter and saw its global smartphone market share increase by almost 15%. Samsung, the closest rival to Apple, saw its market share decrease by 11.8% and sold around eight million fewer devices compared to just one year ago, according to the market data.

gartner q4 2020 sales charts light
Apple's near 15% increase in market share yielded it an "upgrade super-cycle," according to Annette Zimmerman, the lead analyst for Apple at Gartner, quoted by the Financial Times. In Q1 of 2021, Apple saw its largest number of ‌iPhone‌ upgrades ever, according to CEO Tim Cook. The ‌iPhone‌ alone generated more than $65 billion in revenue for the first quarter of the year.

For the greater picture, however, global smartphone sales decreased by 12.5% in 2020. Out of the top five smartphone makers, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two unscathed by the global decline in sales. Apple's growth comes despite the fact that it launched its ‌iPhone 12‌ series out of the normal September timeframe due to the global health crisis.

Across the board, the accelerated growth of 5G adoption around the world drove up demand for 5G compatible smartphones. In a year stricken by economic difficulties, consumers were looking for lower-end, affordable 5G smartphones, instead of higher-end models with price tags of up to $1,500. On that front, the iPhone 12 mini, despite reports of it performing poorly relative to other ‌iPhone 12‌ models, likely helped Apple overtake Samsung thanks to its small form factor and relatively affordable $699 price tag.

Looking further ahead into 2021, Gartner expects that the availability of lower-end 5G smartphones, such as the ‌iPhone 12 mini‌, will be a "deciding factor for end users to upgrade their existing smartphones." Apple is expected to continue the "mini" model for next year's model, and the entire iPhone 13 lineup is rumored to feature an under-the-screen Touch ID sensor, always-on-display, and improved cameras.

Related Roundups: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro
Tag: Gartner
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

chucker23n1 Avatar
12 weeks ago

These reports of bad 12 mini sales make me laugh. There are plenty of people going to a shop to buy a 12mini, then they see that they can get a much bigger iphone for almost the same money, change their mind and buy the bigger phone, and Apple is laughing all the way to the bank.
There's also oddly never a report over how "the Samsung Galaxy M31 sold really poorly compared to the S20 and therefore should be discontinued".
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unggoy Murderer Avatar
12 weeks ago
Apple has an iPhone at nearly every price point between £400 and £1100 which will certainly be helping - and all of them are premium devices. The iPhone SE's probably the best value phone on the market right now.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
12 weeks ago
… and think about what it could do if it had a keyboard!

Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IamTimCook Avatar
12 weeks ago

Apple is slowly becoming a monopoly, especially when it comes to the high-end market. That's concerning.
They don’t say that the person who wins a race against a field of competitors has a “monopoly”... they just call him better.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
koil Avatar
12 weeks ago

These reports of bad 12 mini sales make me laugh. There are plenty of people going to a shop to buy a 12mini, then they see that they can get a much bigger iphone for almost the same money, change their mind and buy the bigger phone, and Apple is laughing all the way to the bank.
Not saying I disagree with you at all, but I want to emphasise that there certainly exists people who do not see "bigger phone" as a selling point. They may however, see that they can get a roughly the same size phone for a much smaller amount (the SE), and instead leave with that over the 12 mini.

Disclaimer: Extremely happy 12 mini owner. Future 15 Pro mini owner. ??
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Game 161 Avatar
12 weeks ago
The fact they are doing this with no 100-300 priced phones is amazing really as thats where a lot of Samsung’s sales come from. It apple are dominating the low end £399 and mid range at say 599-699 and also the 999 to 1399 range then it really puts them in great shape. The fact the 12 pro max was the best selling phone in US given the price point is impressive.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...