Global smartphone sales grow 10.8% in Q2 2021

Research finds global smartphone arena showing double-digit growth despite supply constraints, production disruption, component shortages, factory shutdowns and closure of retail businesses

In stellar results for the quarter ended 26 June 2021, Apple reported iPhone sales of $39.57bn, up 49.8% year on year, and this huge growth has been reflected across the global smartphone industry, according to new research from Gartner.

In its Market share: PCs, ultramobiles and mobile phones, all countries, 2Q21 update, the analyst found there were 328.8 million global smartphone sales to end-users in the second quarter, a year-on-year increase of 10.8%. “Demand for smartphones continued to be strong in this quarter as buyers preferred higher specifications and better user experience,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “The pent-up demand from 2020 continues to drive advantage for global smartphone vendors in 2021.”

The growth was generated despite supply constraints, due mainly to coronavirus-related production disruption and component shortages, as experienced by Apple in the first part of 2020. These included factory shutdowns in India and Vietnam because of the second wave of Covid-19, the closure of retail businesses and restrictions on online deliveries that affected smartphone sales negatively in the second quarter after a strong start to 2021.

On the upside, the survey revealed that regions with higher penetration of 5G connectivity saw strong demand for 5G smartphones and were growth drivers for the leading smartphone suppliers, with Samsung in particular being a beneficiary. The Korean firm expanded its 5G smartphone line-up in the second quarter at entry and mid-range prices to target growth opportunities in 5G segments.

The company shipped 57.748 million units in the quarter, up 18.4% on the previous year, giving the firm a 17.6% market share. But although Samsung maintained the leading position among the top five global smartphone suppliers, its year-on-year growth slowed because of supply constraints and production disruptions.

Despite the massive iPhone shipments, strong global worldwide smartphone sales saw Chinese vendor Xiaomi surpass Apple in the second quarter with 51.073 million units, taking it to a 15.5% share and into second place for the first time ahead of third-placed Apple, which accounted for 15% of devices.

In the quarter, Xiaomi registered 80.5% growth in sales, which Gartner said resulted from a stronger online presence and rapid expansion in the global markets beyond Asia/Pacific led by investments in retail channels and partnerships with communication service providers.

Apple saw 49.258 million global unit shipments over Gartner’s forecast period, putting it comfortably ahead of Oppo and Vivo by some 16 million units in the quarter. The Chinese smartphone suppliers grew by 42.4% and 41.6%, respectively, in the second quarter.

The analyst said Oppo’s growth was boosted by aggressively priced mid-tier smartphones, a wider distribution network and robust marketing campaigns in Western Europe. Vivo was seen to have continued to expand its market presence beyond Asia/Pacific, beginning with a focus on Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Vendors outside the top five collectively notched up 104.93 million shipments in the quarter, 31.9% of the market but 11.6 percentage points lower than in Q2 2020.

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