According to a new report, Huawei has surpassed Apple to become the second-largest smartphone vendor globally for 2019, as Samsung retains top spot yet again.

The report comes from Counterpoint Research and shows the volume of smartphone shipments actually declining by 1% across the entire industry. Even with heavy trade restrictions in place, Huawei has seen growth within Chinese borders, where it made up almost 40% of the market.

China accounts for over 60% of the total Huawei smartphone shipments, which is to be expected as, without direct access to Google Play Services on new devices, the firm faces an uphill struggle in convincing customers to pick up handsets in the rest of the world. It’s also worth noting that these sales figures for Huawei also include the affordable sub-brand Honor.

Despite the sanctions, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the second-largest brand in 2019. This was the result of an aggressive push from Huawei in the Chinese market, where it achieved almost 40% market share. China accounted for over 60% of Huawei’s total shipments. Outside China, Huawei is trying to continue selling its older devices. But with rising competition, its value proposition is being gradually undermined. And while Huawei is working on its own operating system, it will almost impossible for it to compete with Android anywhere outside China.

However, the biggest news for the Android space is that Apple attained the highest sales figures for Q4 2019. This means they were the top smartphone vendor in a quarter for the first time in over two years. The undoubted success of the iPhone 11 was part of this successful sales period. Despite that, Apple saw a 1% decline in global sales in 2019 compared to 2018.

A worrying statistic for the entire industry though is the consecutive decline but with 5G deploying globally, it is hoped that the next 12 months will see another shift as buyers are enticed by the wider availability of the superfast wireless networks.

Samsung still retains the #1 spot in global smartphone sales but has only seen 1% YoY growth for 2019 — with a 20% market share. Huawei, Vivo, and Realme are the only brands that saw an increase in market share for the same 12 month period — 2%, and 1% respectively. Chinese firms are expanding much further beyond their “traditional” borders and launching products with far more global appeal.

The more established top five smartphone brands still managed to capture 66% of the entire smartphone market throughout 2019. That is a minor 1% bump over the previous year. Samsung being one of the major 5G players will be hoping for an improved 2020, with over 6.5 million 5G-enabled devices shipped throughout 2019.

Concerns have grown as many production plants and supply will undoubtedly be affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak in China. It is still unclear just how this may affect the biggest players in Q1 2020 and beyond.

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Damien Wilde

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