Global smartphone market recovered to pre-COVID-19 level in 2021, Samsung retained the lead: Canalys

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 28, 2022
Updated 2022/01/28 at 1:50 PM

The smartphone market worldwide recovered to pre-COVID-19 level in 2021, growing 7% year-over-year to 1.35 billion shipments, according to a report. The reported growth despite the shortage of component supply due to the pandemic that is still being faced by most market players globally. Samsung maintained its market leadership for the year with a 20% share. It was followed by Apple. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo were the other three in the list of top five smartphone vendors globally.

Canalys business analyst reported on Friday that the global smartphone market reached 1.35 billion units in 2021, close to the 2019 shipment mark of 1.37 billion units. This year’s shipments also increased from 1.26 billion units shipped in 2020

“Many vendors performed at their best in 2021, expanding smartphone shipments by double digits to compare and surpass pre-COVID-19 levels,” Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia said in a prepared statement. “The main growth driver for the industry came from the vast mass market segment, especially in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, as well as Latin America. Unfortunately, this segment has also witnessed more severe component shortages, especially on low-end 4G chipsets.”

Among other players, Samsung continued to lead the global market in 2021. The South Korean company sold 274.5 million units of smartphones, 19 million more than the 255.5 million units sold in 2020 – or showing a 7% annual growth. However, Samsung retained the 20 percent market share it captured the year before, according to the Canalys report.

Apple remained in second place with 230.1 million units sold for the year. The Cupertino company was able to ship 22.9 million more iPhone units out of 207.2 million units in 2020, which helped to mark annual growth of 11%. It also increased its market share to 17% from 16% the year before.

After Samsung and Apple, Xiaomi ranked third. The Chinese company captured a 14% market share by shipping 191.2 million units in 2021.

Xiaomi was followed by Oppo and Vivo which achieved 11 and 10 percent market share last year, respectively. Oppo sold 145.1 million units in the year that included OnePlus shipments. Vivo’s shipments, on the other hand, grew to 129.9 million, Canalys said.

The market share of other players dropped to 28% in 2021 from 33% the year before, the report shows.

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth throughout 2021, according to Canalys

Supplier 2021 shipments (in millions) market share in 2021 2020 shipments (in millions) market share in 2020 annual growth
Samsung 274.5 20 percent 255.5 20 percent 7 percent
litter 230.1 17 percent 207.2 16 percent 11 percent
Xiaomi 191.2 14 percent 149.6 12 percent 28 percent
Oppo 145.1 11 percent 119.4 9 percent 22 percent
Alive 129.9 10 percent 112.6 9 percent 15 percent
Others 379.4 28 percent 420.5 33 percent -10 percent
Total 1,350.2 100 percent 1,264.7 100 percent 7 percent

“Apple’s record year in smartphones is no surprise, but Samsung was hit hard by supply and production issues in the year, and its main volume driver, the Galaxy A-series, saw shortages across the world,” said the report. research analyst at Canalys Le. Xuan Chiew. “However, Samsung has focused on increasing profitability, especially through its high-quality portfolio. The Galaxy S and Z families were instrumental in offsetting its declining volume share against Chinese suppliers in the global market.”

As for quarterly shipments, Canalys said the global smartphone market sold 363 million units in the fourth quarter, showing a 1% year-on-year increase.

Apple led the market in Q4 2021 with 82.7 million units which resulted in a 23% share. Samsung, however, came in second with 70.5 million units sold, which resulted in a 19% share, the company said.

Xiaomi also maintained its third position in terms of quarterly shipments. The company shipped 45.4 million units and captured a 13% share, according to Canalys.

Oppo and Vivo were the remaining brands on the top five smartphone vendors list globally in Q4 2021.

Global smartphone shipments and growth in Q4 2021, according to Canalys

Supplier Fourth quarter 2021 shipments (in millions) Market share in the fourth quarter of 2021 Fourth quarter 2020 shipments (in millions) Market share in the fourth quarter of 2020 annual growth
litter 82.7 23 percent 81.8 23 percent 1 percent
Samsung 70.5 19 percent 62.0 17 percent 14 percent
Xiaomi 45.4 13 percent 43.4 12 percent 5 percent
Oppo 33.9 9 percent 36.3 10 percent -7 percent
Alive 28.5 8 percent 32.1 9 percent -11 percent
Others 102.1 28 percent 103.9 29 percent -2 percent
Total 363.1 100 percent 359.6 100 percent 1 percent

Canalys predicts that ongoing supply restrictions will gradually ease as chipmakers ramp up production and the price of 5G chipsets drops. This would eventually help 5G devices become the next volume driver in 2022, Chaurasia said.

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