Apple surpassed Samsung to ship the most smartphones in 2023, shows a new report by market research firm IDC. It’s the first time the Cupertino-based tech giant has overtaken Samsung in worldwide smartphone shipments since 2010. Apple’s rise comes on the heels of the increasing popularity of premium iPhone models and aggressive trade-in offers. Global smartphone shipments dropped 3.2 percent year-on-year (YoY) in 2023. However, the last quarter of 2023 saw 8.5 percent year-on-year growth, indicating an expected recovery in 2024. Xiaomi is in a close third spot and other Chinese smartphone brands including Oppo and Transsion Holdings round up the top five slots.
According to analyst firm IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, global smartphone shipments dropped 3.2 percent YoY to 1.17 billion units in 2023 due to a difficult macroeconomic environment and elevated inventory. The fourth quarter of 2023 saw 8.5 percent year-over-year growth and 326.1 million shipments.
For the first time, Apple topped global smartphone sales outpacing Samsung and other Android phone makers. The iPhone maker enjoyed a 20.1 percent market share last year by shipping 234.6 million units. The South Korean smartphone brand shipped 226.6 million units and grabbed 19.4 percent market share. Xiaomi took the third spot by shipping 145.9 million units with a 12.5 percent market share.
Oppo and Transsion came in fourth and fifth, respectively. Oppo shipped 103.1 million units and got an 8.8 percent market share, while Transsion shipped 94.9 million smartphones and received an 8.1 percent market share.
In the last quarter of 2023, Apple led the market with a 24.7 percent market share, followed by Samsung, Xiaomi, Transsion, and Vivo in the top five places. IDC notes that the last time Samsung was not on top of the smartphone market was 13 years ago in 2010. Apple’s performance is attributed to the increasing trend of premium devices and interest-free financing plans.
“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,” said IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team research director Nabila Popal. “Not only is Apple the only player in the Top 3 to show positive growth annually, but also bags the number 1 spot annually for the first time ever. All this despite facing increased regulatory challenges and renewed competition from Huawei in China, its largest market” he added.
Despite the decline in global smartphone shipments in 2023, the market is expected to recover in 2024, fueled by new launches and diversification of Android players. IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers Vice President Ryan Reith opined that the overall Android space is diversifying within itself. Huawei is making inroads quickly within China, and brands like OnePlus, Honor, Google, and others are launching competitive devices in the higher mid-range segment. Foldables and increased discussions around AI capabilities are gaining momentum indicating competitive market trends ahead.