No one expected it to be the best of times. So when Canalys reported that global smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2020 declined, not too many were surprised. After all, it was a time marked by lockdowns all over the world, thanks to COVID. However, there were a few shocks in the report, most notably with one company beating the odds to actually have a quarter and another taking over the mantle of global smartphone leader.

[stat stories] apple rocks as other smartphone brands reel in q2 2020 - apple 2020
Image: NBC News

Here then are the highlights of the report:

Everyone stumbles…

The global smartphone market fell by 14 percent in the quarter as compared to Q2 2019, one of its most steep falls in recent times. Shipments fell from 331.8 million units in Q2 2019 to 284.7 million units in Q2 2020. India, the third-largest market in the world, went down by 48 percent while even the partially open Chinese market fell by 7 percent.

…but Apple strolls

In these circumstances, it was hardly surprising to see most smartphone brands take a hit to their market shares. Samsung’s shipments dipped by an alarming 30 percent, Xiaomi’s by ten percent, and Oppo’s by 16 percent, although Huawei’s fell by a relatively modest 5 percent. The big surprise, however, was that Apple’s shipments actually went up in this period. The brand shipped 45.1 million smartphones as compared to 36 million at the same time last year, giving it a staggering growth rate of 25 percent. The reason for Apple’s success? Read on.

The iPhone SE, iPhone 11 star for Apple

The report attributes Apple’s surge to the launch of the iPhone SE during the quarter. The iPhone SE, which is the most affordable iPhone, accounted for 28 percent of Apple’s global shipments. It was, however, still second to the iPhone 11, which accounts for 40 percent. The report expects the iPhone SE to remain crucial for Apple this year, given the fact that its flagships might get delayed.

We have a new global number one and it is Huawei…

The quarter also saw a new number one in the global smartphone market. Huawei with shipments of 55.8 million and a global market share of 19.6 percent, replaced Samsung who recorded 53.7 million units in the quarter for a share of 18.9 percent. Huawei’s strong performance is a result of its dominance in the Chinese market, which had started functioning again during the quarter even as many of Samsung’s biggest markets, such as India, stayed locked down for most of the quarter. Huawei, as per the report, has been banned in the US but dominates the Chinese market, which accounts for almost seventy percent of its smartphones. Apple was in third place with a 15.8 percent share, Xiaomi was fourth with a 10.1 percent share, while Oppo was fifth with 9.1 percent.

…but for how long?

The report, however, feels that Huawei’s taking the top spot in the smartphone market, while important, is likely to be temporary. As more markets open up, Samsung is expected to surge back and take back the crown, especially as Huawei continues to face challenges in other markets.

“Others” remain significant

Interestingly, even while the category of brands outside the top five, labeled “others” grows weaker in some markets (in India, most notably, where the category has barely 8.1 percent share), globally it remains a strong presence. Yes, other brands outside the top five suffered a decrease of 23 percent year on year, but they still accounted for 75.5 million units and a market share of 26.5 percent. That may be down from 29.4 percent in Q2 2019, but is actually more than what any of the top five brands command. A good sign, we think. Incidentally, “others” here would include the likes of Vivo, Lenovo/Motorola, Realme, Nokia, Asus, OnePlus, and many others.

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