After a COVID-influenced 2020 – the smartphone industry’s Annus Horribilis – global smartphone sales Q1 2021 bounced back 24% YoY to 340 million units.
Now before you get excited, Global smartphone sales Q1 2021 recovery is not exactly unexpected. COVID is now something we have to live with, the world’s economies are recovering, and the primary global market, China, is devouring every 5G handset that it can buy.
The China market was up 35% Year-On-Year (YoY) to 94 million devices – nearly 30% of global sales. It also reflects that during 2020 people held onto their old phones – not wanting to spend unnecessarily.
#1 – Samsung with 23% of the market (77M) – a 32% increase YoY. Considering its main market is not China, it shows the impact of its new A-series and, of course, Samsung’s deep marketing pockets. Its increase also reflects an anti-China-made sentiment in many western markets.
#2 – Apple with 17% (57M) – a 44% YoY increase. Apple came off a very low base in 2020 when sales tanked in China. The popularity of lower-priced superseded models, particularly in China, was its saviour – anything with an Apple logo on it. The iPhone 12, now in 5G, also did well.
#3 – Xiaomi with 15% (49M) and an eye-watering 80% YoY increase. We have not seen this brand here, but it is coming. It mainly sold to India and China markets with expansion in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
#4 – OPPO (excluding vivo, realme, One Plus and other BBK brands) with 11% (38M) and a very impressive 68% YoY growth. OPPOs main growth is from outside China, particularly Europe and Australia.
#5 – vivo with 11% (37M) and a massive 85% growth. Vivo’s main market is China, but it is growing in the export market and doing well here. Its phones are value-packed.
That leaves the rest of the market at 24% (82M), and it is massively shrinking, losing 23% YoY.
Missing is Huawei that saw its market share decimated by not being able to source chips due to US restrictions and forced to sell its Honor brand (43% of its sales).
We expect to see Motorola and realme increase market share after LG’s sudden exit. Frankly, it is now becoming a battle of the giants – Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and the BBK group.
Strategy Analytics says the Global smartphone sales Q1 2021 increase of 24% is not sustainable and predicts a more moderate average of 13%. It says Q1 reflects the replacement of aging devices held onto due to economic uncertainty, economic recovery is greater than expected, and 5G will begin to drive sales where carriers have ‘real’ coverage.
But there is significant price pressure due to chip shortages. Demand is outstripping supply, and Strategy Analytics says we will see an average 6% price increase in the next quarter. It is already happening with new models reducing storage sizes but keeping prices the same.