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Samsung retakes the top spot for phones shipped from Apple as another phone maker gains on them

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Kerry Wan/ZDNET

According to IDC, Samsung has overtaken Apple as the global leader in smartphone shipments. (It was only three months ago that Apple topped Samsung for the first time in global smartphone shipments.)

Also: The best phones for 2024: Expert tested

In the first quarter of 2024, phone makers shipped 289.4 million phones. How did that break down by manufacturer? The numbers tell a very clear picture:

  • Samsung – 60.1 million units shipped with a 22.5% market share
  • Apple – 50.1 million units shipped with a 20.7% market share
  • Xiaomi – 40.8 million units shipped with an 11.4% market share
  • Tanssion – 28.5 million units shipped with a 5.7% market share
  • OPPO – 25.2 million units shipped with a 10.3% market share

The big surprise is the absence of Google. Even with its flagship Pixel 8 phones continuing to gain popularity, the company can’t crack the top 10. The good news for Google is that the number of Android phones shipped in Q1 2024 far overshadowed iOS devices, with Android shipping a total of 144.6 million units.

Those numbers do not include the Others category, which sold 84.7 million units.

It’s also telling to compare the numbers between Q1 2024 and Q1 2023. Last year’s comparable numbers look like this:

  • Samsung – 60.5 million units shipped
  • Apple – 55.4 million units shipped

Also: The best Samsung phones to buy

While Samsung only saw a decrease of 0.4 million units, Apple’s shipments decreased by 5.3 million units.

What’s behind this change? Ryan Reith, the VP of IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, expects Apple and Samsung will both maintain their hold on the high-end portion of the market as Chinese companies force the two smartphone leaders to look for other areas to keep expanding and diversifying.

That’s an easy conclusion to draw, with Xiaomi going from 30.5 million units shipped in Q1 2023 to 40.8 million units shipped in Q1 2024.

Keep in mind that IDC reports units shipped, not sold, which means the number of units a manufacturer has shipped to retailers. Units shipped is, however, a reliable indicator for demand.

Also: How Apple’s AI advances could make or break the iPhone 16

At the moment, the Asian market is the focus. Those smaller companies will continue to eat away at Samsung’s and Apple’s market share.

With Apple planning to go all in with AI this year, however, it’s hard to guess how the market will shift when the next iPhone is released.


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