Global smartphone market shows resiliency

9th November 2020
Alex Lynn

The global smartphone market was able to recover from a tremendously difficult first half of 2020. The 0.9% year-on-year decline in Q3 is a significant improvement over the over 1%5, and worse, declines in each of the first two quarters of the year, according to Omdia’s latest global smartphone shipment preliminary result.

Global shipments reached 357.4 million units in the quarter – down from 360.8 million units in Q3 2019. Quarter-over-quarter, shipments increased 28% from 279.7 million units in Q2 2020. Strong performances by OEMs like Xiaomi, Realme, vivo and Transsion brands, show that some markets have recovered from the initial pandemic shock better than other regions.

Top five

At the top of the leaderboard Samsung regains its position as the largest smartphone OEM, shipping 81.2 million units in the quarter, 50% up from 54.3 million units in Q2 2020 and four percent higher than a year ago. As many countries eased lockdown measures and resumed economy activities, Samsung was able restore smartphone shipments. A complete product portfolio drives Samsung’s overall volume increase, with flagship devices delivering a revenue lift.

One of the key drivers for the growth of some OEMs is Huawei’s shipment decrease. The company shipped 51.9 million units in the quarter. Thanks to the strong sales in China local market, Huawei was able to maintain second place overall, but down 22.3% YoY from the 66.8 million units the company shipped last year. Continued sanction uncertainty is eroding Huawei’s international business.  Xiaomi increased shipments 41.6% YoY to 44.5 million units from 31.4 million units last year. Vivo grew 8.1%, to 30.2 million units from 27.9 million units in Q3 last year.

Apple, in fourth place, shipped 41.5 million units – a 10.2% decline YoY. This year, Apple delayed the launch of its latest generation of iPhones until mid-October, impacting shipments in Q3 as the new models will not reach consumers until the last week of October. Additionally, Apple is staggering the availability of its four new models, with the iPhone 12 mini and Pro Max not launching until the beginning of November. In Q3 2019, Apple shipped 46.2 million units. Quarter-over-quarter, Apple shipments grew five percent thanks to strong demand of iPhone 11 and newly launched iPhone SE.

Top ten

Realme’s shipments grew 43.9% YoY, setting a new quarterly record for the young OEM. The company grew 249% QoQ. The company shipped 14.5 million units in Q3 2020 compared to the 10.1 million units in Q3 2019 and 4.2 million units in Q2 2020.  OPPO cannot replicate the performance of other Chinese OEMs, with shipments declining 2.3% YoY, to 28.0 million units. The company did rebound from Q2, growing shipments 25% QoQ.

Motorola grew shipments by 8.1% YoY to 10.5 million units, up from 9.7 million units in Q3 2019 – and 41% higher than in Q2 2020.

LG shipped 9.3 million units. The company improved, up 38% from 6.7 million units, its shipments compared to Q2 2020. 

Lastly, Tecno grew shipments 52.1% YoY, from 4.4 million units in Q3 2019 to 6.7 million units in Q3 2020.

Geographical and portfolio impacts performance

The performance by OEMs like Realme, Xiaomi and Tecno highlight the fact that some markets can snap back from the deepest impacts of the global pandemic outbreak faster than others. Realme, for example, has been growing in India since spinning out from OPPO.

The company’s other international markets are not as well developed as India. Similarly, Xiaomi has been a market leader in India for some time. Delivering 54% QoQ growth shows that this market is experiencing a renewed growth after a severe lockdown period.

The OEMs growing this quarter all have broad product portfolios in the mid-range and entry-level segment. After facing severe lockdown measures earlier in the year, consumers are now spending money on new handsets which enable new features and functionalities for the new normal.

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