Apple overtakes Samsung as world's biggest smartphone seller

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What you need to know

  • New Gartner research says Apple sold more than 80 million iPhones in Q4 of 2020.
  • That would make it the world's biggest smartphone vendor, the first time it has held top spot since 2016.

New research from Gartner indicates the iPhone 12 helped Apple sell more than 80 million units in Q4 2020, making it the world's biggest smartphone vendor.

As reported by The Financial Times:

The launch of the 5G variant of the iPhone has propelled Apple to the top of the global smartphone makers' rankings for the first time in five years, bucking the broader slowdown in handset sales during the pandemic.According to the research firm Gartner, Apple sold almost 80m phones in the final three months of 2020 following the launch of the iPhone 12, overtaking Samsung to become the world's largest smartphone maker for the first time since 2016.

The report notes Huawei saw a sharp decline in sales of 41% during the quarter, falling behind Xiaomi and Oppo as the fifth largest handset maker.

Apple analyst at Gartner Annette Zimmerman says the rise in Apple sales (some 15%) shows 5G in the iPhone 12 triggered an iPhone upgrade super-cycle.

The report reflects similar numbers from Canalys last month, from that report:

New research indicates that Apple shipped some 82 million iPhones in Q4 of 2020, pushing it to become the world's number one smartphone vendor.According to Canalys:In Q4 2020, worldwide smartphone shipments reached 359.6 million units, a small decline of 2% year-on-year. Apple shipped its most iPhones ever in a single quarter, at 81.8 million units, up 4% against the previous year. Samsung took second place, shipping 62.0 million units for a -12% decline.

Over the year Samsung appears to have held on to the number one spot, but Q4 was a runaway victory for Apple.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9