Samsung has topped the global smartphone shipments chart in 2021 as the market grew for the first time since 2017. Total global smartphone shipments in 2021 hit 1.39 billion units — a 4 percent on-year growth — but remained below pre-pandemic levels.
The reason for lower shipments is continued disruptions caused by Covid-19 and the ongoing component shortage, according to a report by Counterpoint Research. Q4 shipments fell 6 percent on-year basis to 371 million units.
“However, China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, continued to decline due to supply-side issues caused by the ongoing component shortages, as well as demand-side issues resulting from lengthening replacement cycles,” said Harmeet Singh Walia, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint.
Experts believe that the increased demand in Latin America, North America, and India led to the recovery in the global smartphone market. Growth in the US was driven by demand for Apple’s first 5G iPhone 12 Series, which continued throughout the year. The growth in India was attributed to higher replacement rates, attractive financing, and better availability of mid-to high-tier phones.
"The market recovery could have been even better having the component shortage did not have the impact it did in the second half. The major brands navigated the component shortages comparatively better and hence managed to grow by gaining share from long-tail brands,” Walia further added.
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Overall, Samsung shipped 271 million smartphones, up 6 percent from 2020. The report attributed the increase to higher demand for the mid-tier A and M Series devices. Apple registered an 18 percent on-year growth to a record 237.9 million units on the back of the iPhone 12 Series’ strong performance. Xiaomi’s global shipments grew 31 percent on-year to a record 190 million units.
Also, Oppo, including OnePlus shipments since Q3, recorded a 28 percent growth to 143.2 million. Sister brand Vivo grew 21 percent to 131.3 million units. Motorola, on the other hand, was the fastest-growing smartphone brand among the top 10 original equipment manufacturers based on global shipments.
And, for the first time, Realme entered the top five in global Android smartphone shipments, while Honor also entered the top 10 in its first year as an independent manufacturer.