Phil Schiller iPhone 11 keynoteSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Several analysts have taken a stab at the Q4 2019 smartphone sales numbers.
  • There is a suggestion that Apple has equaled Samsung smartphone sales, and maybe even passed it.
  • The consensus seems to be that there is now nothing to separate the two.

Reports on smartphone sales in Q4 2019 suggest that the gap between Apple and Samsung is now closer than ever.

Several outlets have published estimates regarding smartphone shipments for the last quarter, and whilst there is variation, the overall figures seem to suggest that the margin between Apple and Samsung has closed significantly.

According to Bloomberg:

Industry trackers on Thursday released estimates that show the iPhone maker close to matching or surpassing its Korean rival in shipments during the pivotal holiday quarter. Strategy Analytics put Apple's iPhone shipments for the fourth quarter at 70.7 million, slightly ahead of Samsung's 68.8 million. Canalys gauged the U.S. company had moved 78 million, surpassing the Asian brand's 71 million. And researchers at IHS Markit have the positions flipped -- with Samsung at 70.7 million and Apple at 67.7 million.

Research firms are forced to estimate because Apple stopped providing its own iPhone figures a year ago, while Samsung gives a total number that includes smartphones and feature phones. The consensus, however, is that there's essentially no longer any daylight between the two dominant brands in mobile phones.

Apple just announced its most recent results, posting a record-breaking $91.8 billion in revenue over the holiday quarter. Apple enjoyed very strong performance from its iPhone 11 lineup, and the report notes that this is likely the driving factor behind the iPhone's recovery.

These figures only cover the holiday quarter however, which is usually Apple's busiest time of the year. Overall, Samsung shipped far more smartphones than Apple in 2019, 295 million compared to 193 million (according to IHS). With the hotly touted Galaxy S20 reportedly on the way, Samsung seems primed to fight back against Apple's resurgence in the final quarter of 2019.

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Perhaps the only unknown quantity looking forward is Apple's rumored iPhone SE 2/iPhone 9, budget smartphone tipped for a March announcement. Not only would that thrust Apple and the iPhone back into the spotlight during the spring, which is typically Samsung's time to shine, if the rumors of a $399 price point are correct, it could open up iPhone sales to a whole new section of the smartphone customer base who want a cheap, budget iPhone.

Now that the gap seems to have closed, we've plenty to look forward to as Apple and Samsung duke it out in 2020.

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