Apple's iPhone 15 just helped it beat Samsung to the top spot in smartphones — Cupertino lands number one in annual shipments for the first time ever

The back of an iPhone 15 Pro, showing its camera system.
(Image credit: Future)

For the first time in 13 years, Samsung is not the company that has the largest market share in the smartphone sector — Apple has pipped the Korean firm to the post with a “record high market share” according to the IDC. All this, even though customers bought fewer phones, with the market dropping by 3.2% over the course of 2023.

While Mac falters for Apple, the iPhone continues to be the company’s biggest strength, outselling up-and-coming competitors in the Chinese market.

Big sales

Going by the helpful table in the IDC’s report, there are a few key figures that cemented Apple’s victory last year. In Q4, which was when the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro were launched, Apple shipped 80.5 million iPhones, more than it sold in 2022. That’s 11.6% growth over 2022 — and crucially far more than Samsung.

Samsung had a bit of a shocker during the final quarter of 2023. The firm only shipped 53 million smartphones, for a -10.9% change on 2022. So while Apple not only grew, Samsung’s numbers fell overall giving Apple an even greater lead in the last chunk of the year.

For the year as a whole, Apple’s 2023 market share was 20.1%, edging out Samsung’s 19.4%. The two shipped 234.6 million and 226.6 million units respectively. Crucially, Apple’s numbers for the year are up compared to 2022, while Samsung’s annual figures were down 13.6%.  Also of interest are the growing shares of the upcoming Chinese manufacturers that Apple has to watch with cautious eyes — Xiaomi grew by 22.7%, and Transsion clambered up the ladder with a massive 68.6% extra market share over 2022.

Where does Apple have to watch?

Apple will be looking at China with some concern. It sells loads of phones in the country, and will likely be concerned about these new Chinese upstarts that stand to take away a great deal of business from the iPhone maker.

For now, however, Apple has proved the purchasing power of its iPhone users in an otherwise adverse buying environment. While fewer people bought phones, more of those people buy iPhones — which speaks volumes about customers' loyalty to the iPhone.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.