Apple Becomes Top Smartphone Vendor By Volume For First Time

Apple Store, Beijing, China. Image credit: Unsplash

Apple has become the world’s biggest smartphone maker by volume for the first time ever, dethroning Samsung after 12 years

Apple has overtaken Samsung for the first time as the biggest seller of smartphones by volume, amidst growth in high-end devices and increased competition for Samsung in China.

Apple sold a total of 234.6 million for all of 2023, up 3.7 percent year-on-year, compared to Samsung’s 226.6 million, a drop of 13.6 percent, according to IDC.

Xiaomi, Oppo and Transsion, all makers of low-cost Android devices that compete with Samsung at the lower end, rounded out the top five with sales of 145.9 million, 103.1 million and 94.9 million.

The last time Samsung did not lead smartphone sales was 2010, when the top five device makers were Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, ZTE and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, IDC said.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Premium devices

The firm noted that Apple was the only manufacturer in the top three to show positive annual growth.

“Apple’s ongoing success and resilience is in large part due to the increasing trend of premium devices, which now represent over 20 percent of the market, fueled by aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans,” said IDC research director Nabila Popal.

Samsung also faced growing competition from the likes of Huawei, OnePlus, Honor and Google, IDC noted, adding that Huawei’s “improving strength” with new devices using domestically manufactured high-end chips may also affect Apple’s sales in China.

Analysts Jeffries said in October that Huawei had dethroned the iPhone from its top market share spot in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.

Xiaomi smartphones

Smartphone slump

Overall smartphone shipments declined 3.2 percent in 2023 over the previous year to 1.17 billion units, according to IDC, the worst performance in a decade.

But shipments grew 8.5 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, IDC said, in a sign that the market may be recovering from a years-long slump.

Analyst firm Canalys similarly said the market grew by 8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter after seven straight quarters of declines.