Apple Takes Top Spot From Samsung in Smartphone Market for First Time

Apple takes top spot from Samsung in smartphone market share
Credit: Apple

An International Data Corporation (IDC) report shows that Apple has grabbed the top spot from Samsung in global smartphone shipments. This marks the first time since 2010 that a company other than Samsung has held the position, and the first time Apple has ever been number one.

The IDC’s report explains that despite an overall 3.2% decline in global smartphone shipments in 2023, Apple was one of the few companies to see growth in phone sales. While this was the lowest annual total of smartphones sold in a decade, per IDC, a second-half surge in 2023 bodes well for an overall market recovery in 2024. The fourth quarter alone (4Q23) experienced 8.5% year-over-year growth and 326.1 million shipments.

“While we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players like Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, the biggest winner is clearly Apple,” says Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team.

“Not only is Apple the only player in the top three to show positive growth annually, but also bags the number one spot annually for the first time ever. All this despite facing increased regulatory challenges and renewed competition from Huawei in China, its largest market. Apple’s ongoing success and resilience is in large part due to the increasing trend of premium devices, which now represent over 20% of the market, fueled by aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans,” Popal continues.

Apple takes top spot from Samsung in smartphone market share
Smartphone market share in 2022 | Data credit: IDC
Apple takes top spot from Samsung in smartphone market share
Smartphone market share in 2023 | Data credit: IDC

This move toward premium, more expensive devices has also been mirrored in the camera market, for what it’s worth. Even as unit sales may dip, higher average prices can offset dips when looking at total revenue. As PetaPixel knows first-hand, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max flagship smartphones are amazing devices.

“The overall shift in ranking at the top of the market further highlights the intensity of competition within the smartphone market,” says Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “Apple certainly played a part in Samsung’s drop in rank, but the overall Android space is diversifying within itself. Huawei is back and making inroads quickly within China. Brands like OnePlus, Honor, Google, and others are launching very competitive devices in the lower price range of the high end. And foldables and increased discussions around AI capabilities on the smartphone are gaining traction. Overall, the smartphone space is headed towards a very interesting time.”

Looking at unit sales growth year-over-year, rather than market share, Apple experienced 3.7% growth from 2022 to 2023, whereas Samsung’s shipments dipped 13.6%, a rather significant fall. It will be interesting to see if the new Galaxy S24 devices reverse the trend for Samsung in 2024.

While many companies beyond Samsung experienced a reduction in shipments last year, explaining the overall 3.2% drop in smartphone shipments in 2023, Apple’s positive growth is out-shined by relatively new player Transsion, which saw 30.8% growth.

With Samsung debuting its Galaxy S24 smartphones today, and smaller but significant players like OnePlus, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo poised to make waves this year, will Apple be able to hold onto its top spot or will it be a one-year wonder?

Credits: Data sourced from IDC