Who is the world's biggest smartphone manufacturer?

Who is the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer?

Brand loyalists are often prone to exaggeration and hyperbole in attempting to defend the honour of their chosen brand against the merits of rival products.

We’ve seen it many times over the years. Ford and Vauxhall, Sky and Virgin, iOS and Android… the list goes on.

There is often debate about the status of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, with Apple fans regularly claiming their brand leads the field.

In terms of introducing new features, that’s true to a point – though Android pioneered everything from predictive typing and live photos to split-screens and night modes.

Yet in terms of sheer sales volumes, it’s not Apple which leads the way as the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer.

The numbers are in…

In early September, Strategy Analytics released their latest quarterly report on worldwide smartphone sales.

In 2019, Samsung stood head and shoulders ahead of its competitors, shipping 295.1 million handsets.

This compared favourably to the 240.5 million shipped by Huawei, with Apple in third place with 197.4 million handsets.

Strategy Analytics also broke out its crystal ball to predict 2020’s figures.

These have been buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdown of high-street retailers, and the first ripples of the economic tsunami expected to hit the world economy.

As such, Samsung may be relieved that their anticipated figures for 2020 would still see 265.5 million smartphones being shipped globally.

Huawei has been hit hard by the US Government’s decision to ban it from using Google’s Android operating system, with its stock of American-made processor chips also dwindling.

It retains second place in the global sales table, but only just, with sales expected to drop by almost a fifth to 192.7 million units.

Apple has lost considerably less ground than its competitors, and its projected figure of 190.1 million units across 2020 is less than four per cent down on last year.

However, separate research from Omdia has suggested the iPhone 11 is currently the world’s most popular handset, with 37.7 million units sold in the first half of 2020.

This placed the iPhone way ahead of the second-placed Samsung Galaxy A51 (11.4 million units), though of course Samsung’s product range is far larger than Apple’s.

…but will they be accurate?

At the time of writing, we are six months on from the global lockdown imposed by panicked Governments, and the economic shockwave is yet to hit the world’s economy.

There are dire warnings that this winter could see a resurgence of Covid-19 cases and further lockdowns. If that happens, smartphone purchases will be the last thing on many people’s minds.

We simply don’t know how badly the consumer electronics segment will be hit by the fallout, or what the ramifications could be for investment in new handsets.

It does seem this decade will be a far harsher environment for smartphone manufacturers than the last one, which in hindsight increasingly resembles a golden age.

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