The popularity of the iPhone 12 meant Apple overtook Samsung in smartphone sales in the final quarter of last year, the first time this has happened in four years, says Gartner.

The market intelligence firm says Apple saw year-on-year growth of 14.9%, while Samsung saw its own sales fall by 11.8% in the same period…

Gartner says that across the whole of 2020, Apple enjoyed more modest growth of 3.3%, while Samsung’s sales fell by a larger 14.6%.

The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot. The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016 […]

Samsung experienced a year-on-year decline of 14.6% in 2020, but this did not prevent it from retaining its No. 1 global smartphone vendor position in full year results. It faced tough competition from regional smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo as these brands grew more aggressive in global markets. In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five ranking to experience growth.

Across all makers, worldwide smartphone sales declined by 12.5% last year.

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020.

“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “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.”

Sales of the iPhone 12 would have been even higher if Apple had been able to keep up with demand, but global chip shortages hit supplies.

“The virus pandemic, social distancing in factories, and soaring competition from tablets, laptops and electric cars are causing some of the toughest conditions for smartphone component supply in many years,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst with Strategy Analytics. He estimates prices for key smartphone components including chipsets and displays have risen as much as 15% in the past three to six months.

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

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