California-based tech giant Apple has beaten South Korean smartphone manufacturer Samsung for the first time in four years to emerge as the top smartphone vendor globally, reveals global research and advisory firm Gartner in its latest report.
"Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot. The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016," says the market research agency.
Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner, said, "The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020."
Last year, Apple released four models in the iPhone 12 series and a budget iPhone SE. The iPhone 12 series supports 5G wireless connectivity and can capture and edit 4K video in Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR).
"Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter," Gupta added.
With the popularity of the 5G iPhone 12 series, Apple overtook Samsung in smartphone sales in the final quarter of last year. Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Gartner says Apple saw year-on-year growth of 14.9 per cent, while Samsung saw its sales fall by 11.8 per cent in the same period. The report also added that across the whole of 2020, Apple enjoyed a modest growth of 3.3 per cent, while Samsung's sales fell by 14.6 per cent.
Samsung also faced tough competition from regional smartphone vendors - Xiaomi, Vivo and OPPO - in global markets. In 2020, Apple and Xiaomi were the only two smartphone vendors of the top five smartphone vendors to experience growth.
Global smartphones sales declined 5.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 12.5 per cent in full-year 2020.
Huawei recorded the highest decline among the top five smartphone vendors which made it lose its second position to Apple in 2020. The impact of the Google App ban on Huawei's smartphones was detrimental to Huawei's performance in 2020 and negatively affected its sales.