Apple moved ahead of the South Korean giant in the fourth quarter of 2020, and ended up second overall, nudging out Huawei.
Gartner said the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple to record double-digit growth in the final quarter. The last time Apple was the top global smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter of 2016.
“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimised the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.
While Samsung saw sales fall by 14.6% year-on-year, it still managed to keep the top spot globally for the full calendar year.
Unsurprisingly, Huawei experienced the biggest sales drop and it fell to third spot. American sanctions have taken a heavy toll on the company.
Samsung fought off competition from Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo even though Xiaomi was the only other manufacturer, apart from Apple, to experience growth in 2020.
“In 2021, the availability of lower end 5G smartphones and innovative features will be deciding factors for end users to upgrade their existing smartphones,” said Gupta.
“The rising demand for affordable 5G smartphones outside China will boost smartphone sales in 2021.”