Global smartphone market share 2019

Aussies switching to Android

Gartner has released its analysis of the global smartphone marketshare 2019. Overall, the blood-bath predictions of a catastrophic 4% decline did not happen. The new handset market shrunk by about 1% or 15 million handsets.

Now forgetting the various methodologies used by analysts – sell-in, sell-out, activations, intent to buy (that is always wrong) it is clear that the industry did not get the thrashing it expected. And in the end they were all remarkably close to measuring the global smartphone market share 2019

Oh, well there is always 2020, Coronavirus, 5G fiascos, the resurgence of refurbishments and more guaranteed not to disappoint.

Gartner’s figures put #1 Samsung with 296.194 million (19.2%), quite a lead from #2 Huawei at 240.615m (15.6%), #3 Apple 193.475m (12.16%), #4 Xiaomi 126.049m (8.2%) and #5 OPPO 118.693m (7.7%).

But what is really interesting is that leaves 565.630m or 36.7% for the remainder. If you add BBK owned brands together – OPPO, vivo, realme, and OnePlus it is the second, perhaps third largest global phone maker.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2019

Vendor 2019
in 1000s
Share (%)
Share (%)
Samsung 296,194.0 19.2 295,043.7 19.0
Huawei 240,615.5 15.6 202,901.4 13.0
Apple 193,475.1 12.6 209,048.4 13.4
Xiaomi 126,049.2 8.2 122,387.0 7.9
OPPO 118,693.2 7.7 118,787.1 7.6
Others 565,630.0 36.7 607,445.4 39.0
Total 1,540,657.0 100.0 1,555,613.0 100.0


Android and iOS market share stabilises

The world is now (February 2020) sitting at roughly 75% Android and 25% iOS. The shocks of 2019 have stabilised. But what is disturbing is research that fewer than 9% will spend over US$500 (A$1000) and 80% of sales are below A$500.

My spies at JB tell me that Apple’s most popular model is still the iPhone 7 32GB at $499 – after all, an old/new Apple is still an Apple.

And in the Aussie flagship market, it is Apple to Samsung – approx. 2-1.

Refurbished phones start to bite

A new red herring is the upsurge of refurbished or ‘secondary’ market phones. There are no accurate figures on this yet, but estimates put it at 260 million handsets with strong growth in cost-conscious countries such as India, Latin America, SE Asia, and Africa.

But it is a fragile market as it artificially props up new handset sales for Apple and to a lesser extent Samsung. As fully featured Android 4/5G phones drop to $599+ and 4G to <$399 this market becomes far less attractive.

And the market for Apple devices is strong because you can only buy a new Apple at full price (price control) from an Authorised reseller. The refurb market is unregulated and feeds off Apple’s inflated trade-in prices.

Telsyte says over 15% iPhones purchased in Australia in 2019 were second-hand or refurbished.

Huawei becomes a dirty word in the west

The inclusion of Huawei on the US Entities List in May 2019 meant that its new models could not use US tech and importantly, Google Android or apps. Exit Huawei from the Western markets. But Huawei has grown in China (mainly at Apple’s expense) where Google is not allowed anyway.

Samsung S10 picked up some slack as a worthy contender to its Mate 30 and flagship models and OPPO to its Nova and value models.

5G so over hyped it leaves users cold and confused

Next, the 5G fiasco where Telco carriers forced mythical (non-existent) 5G services on the unsuspecting public and overhyping the capabilities so much that it saw the public back off and wait. Only 1.4% of handsets sold in 2019 were 5G, and most (74%) were a free upgrade from a Samsung Galaxy 10+ to the 5G version.

Instead of igniting the consumer’s passion, it had the opposite effect – wait for a year or three to see if 5G has any value at all. Our advice – do not buy 5G unless you have a specific use case and can get that imaginary reception.

Apple lost its gloss

Things like #batterygate, #keyboardgate, #stagelightgate, no Mac touch screen, runaway pricing and a truly awful litigation record saw Apple’s gloss diminish.

Global smartphone market share 2019
Apple bleeding red!

Then Apple announced it would not have a 5G model (but has since reversed that decision for late 2020) so Apple users waited. And the US and Australian Telcos were forced to stop cross-subsidising the handsets revealing the real cost, and there were more than a few shocks.

All of sudden <US$500 Android handset sales sky-rocketed as the great iOS to Android switch took hold.

Apple also lost market share for three straight quarters in 2019 ending up at 10% although there has been a 7.5% increase in Q4 due to the iPhone 11 and subsequent discounts on previous models.

And in Australia?

Australian research company Telsyte says Australia buys approx. eight million handsets and the average replacement cycle rose from 2.8 years to 3.3 years (in part waiting for 5G).

Australia is one of the last bastions of Apple. According to Statcounter (that measures brand ongoing use), Apple sits at 53.95% market share, Samsung at 24.47%, Huawei at 9.2, OPPO at 3.68%.

Telsyte states that Apple’s new sales market share is actually 42.4% – there are a lot of old iPhones out there. In fact, Telsyte says around 20% of smartphones in use are at least five years old, indicating the market is ripe for upgrades.

GadgetGuy’s take – The hottest segment will be well under $1000

Forget refurbs – the hottest segments will be $699-999 for Gen 2 5G phones, and the bulk of the sales will be in the $399-599 bracket for amazingly featured 4GX phones.

This report, mainly based on Gartner and Telsyte statistics is not far removed from Counterpoint statistics that we commented on in February. It was a brand focus – this report has a trends focus.

Global smartphone market share 2019