Global smartphone sales grew 26% in 1st Quarter - But not everything is rosy

After being down for sometime, worldwide smartphone sales grew by 26% in the first quarter of 2021.  The last quarter of 2020 had seen a 5% fall.

These numbers emerged in a report on smartphones market by Gartner, a global research and advisory company.

Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner, said the improvement in consumer outlook, sustained learning and working from home, along with pent-up demand from 2020 boosted sales of smartphones in the first quarter. "Consumers started spending on discretionary items as the pandemic situation improved in many parts of the world and markets opened up,” he said and added "one cannot ignore that the base for comparison is also lower in 2020, than it was in 2019. This explains the double-digit growth.”

Samsung snatches top slot from Apple

As it happens, the report said that smartphone industry cannot afford to heave a sigh of relief. At least not just yet. The report warned that global chip shortage may affect smartphone sales in the coming quarter, with possible changes in the average selling price (ASPs) of mobile phones worldwide.

In terms of brands, the top three global smartphone vendors --- Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi -- maintained their respective positions in the first quarter of 2021. 

The launch of mid-priced smartphones, such as phones priced under $150, boosted Samsung’s unit sales globally. The early shipping of its flagship 5G smartphones added to the company’s smartphone sales growth.

Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Sales by Brands in 1Q21 (Thousands of Units

Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone Brands in terms of sales 1Q21 (Thousands of Units) (Image credit: Gartner)

Apple slipped to the second slot after securing the No.1 spot in the fourth quarter of 2020. According to Gupta, 5G will continue to be the major growth driver for Apple in 2021. Device upgrades will fuel demand for Apple’s flagship phone throughout the year.

All of the top five global smartphone brands registered strong year over year growth over 2020 indicating that the phone market is consolidating around the top five vendors. 

Chinese smartphone vendors Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo witnessed growing demand for 5G smartphones and capitalized on the opportunities due to weakening sales of Huawei and LG globally.

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