Apple tops Samsung in worldwide smartphone shipments for the first time

Apple’s iPhone has overtaken Samsung for the first time ever as the best-selling smartphone in 2023, according to a new report from IDC. The tech giant accounted for 20% of the global market with 234.6 million shipments last year. Samsung closed the year with 226.6 million shipments, while Xiaomi and Oppo saw 145.9 and 103.1 shipments, respectively. Transsion rounded out the top five with 94.9 million shipments.

The report notes that the last time a company other than Samsung was at the top of the smartphone market was in 2010, when Nokia ranked first.

“While we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players like Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, the biggest winner is clearly Apple,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team, in a press release. “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.”

Popal went on to note that Apple ranked first despite increased regulatory challenges and competition from Huawei in China, which is its largest market. The report comes as Apple is currently offering rare discounts on some of its smartphones in China in a bid to attract customers. The research firm says Apple’s ongoing success is mainly due to the “increasing trend of premium devices, which now represent over 20% of the market, fueled by aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans.”

Image Credits: IDC

IDC says although Apple played a part in Samsung’s drop in rank, it’s worth noting that there was competition within the Android space itself, as OnePlus, Honor, Google and others are launching competitive devices in the lower price range of the high end scale. Plus, foldables and talks around AI capabilities on the smartphones are gaining traction.

According to the report, global smartphone shipments declined 3.2% year over year to 1.17 billion units in 2023.

“While this marks the lowest full-year volume in a decade, driven largely by macroeconomic challenges and elevated inventory early in the year, growth in the second half of the year has cemented the expected recovery for 2024,” IDC outlined. “The fourth quarter (4Q23) saw 8.5% year-over-year growth and 326.1 million shipments, higher than the forecast of 7.3% growth.”

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