The panorama: Global smartphone sales rose 26 percent in the first quarter of 2021, with Samsung leading the way. While that figure may seem encouraging at first glance, strong comparisons to 2020 are somewhat unfair considering that last year was a bit anomalous.
Gartner in its latest market intelligence report notes that Samsung sold 76.6 million phones globally in the first quarter, capturing 20.3 percent market share in the process. The launch of mid-priced phones, as well as the early shipping of 5G flagship phones, contributed to sales growth, Gartner said.
Apple finished second with 58.6 million iPhones sold, good enough for a 15.5 percent market share. Similarly, Cupertino benefited from the launch of its first 5G-enabled iPhones, a feature that Gartner believes will continue to be a major growth driver for Apple throughout 2021.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi grabbed 12.9 percent of the market with sales close to 49 million units, while Vivo and Oppo each got a 10.2 percent slice of the pie.
Anshul Gupta, Gartner Senior Director of Research, aforementioned a number of factors that led to increased sales in the first quarter, including an improvement in consumer outlook, sustained work and learning from home, and pent-up demand as of 2020.
“Consumers began spending on discretionary items as the pandemic situation improved in many parts of the world and markets opened,” Gupta added.
That said, we cannot ignore the fact that the benchmark in 2020 is lower than in 2019. “This explains the double-digit growth,” Gupta noted.