The two companies still dominate smartphone sales, but it’s been a tough, tough year

Young Asian woman holding smartphone while waking up in bed in the morning.

Image: Oscar Wong via Getty Images

Apple and Samsung are once again the top smartphone makers in terms of market share, but this has also been a year where supply shortages and slowing sales have plagued the entire industry.

Technology analyst Canalys reports that worldwide smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2022 fell 17% year-on-year, while full-year shipments fell 11% to just under 1.2 billion. IDC analyst estimates the industry has shipped 1.24 billion smartphones in 2022 and no growth in 2023.

But Apple’s iPhone hit its highest market share ever with 25% in the fourth quarter. It has traded top spot with Samsung twice since 2020, both times in Q4, along with a new iPhone launch in September.

Samsung, which is expected to launch the Galaxy S23 series on February 1, ended the quarter with a 20% market share worldwide. In third place, Xiaomi has 11% market share, while Oppo and Vivo have 10% and 8% respectively.

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According to Canalys, this quarter was the worst quarter for smartphone shipments in a decade.

And it’s not just smartphones that are struggling. PC shipments are also in the doldrums as consumers and businesses are currently restraining their spending. Full-year PC shipments for 2022 reached 286.2 million units, down 16.2% from 2021, according to analyst Gartner. PC shipments in Q4 2022 fell 28.5 percent year-over-year — the biggest drop Gartner has recorded since it began tracking the PC market in the mid-1990s.

That drop can partly be explained by COVID-19-related supply chain issues in China during the quarter, but also by retailers’ concerns about carrying too much inventory. In November, Apple competed with interruption at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou iPhone assembly plant. Apple warned that holiday shipments will be lower than expected due to disruptions.

“Smartphone vendors have struggled in a difficult macroeconomic environment throughout 2022. Q4 marked the worst year-on-year and Q4 performance in a decade,” Canalys research analyst Runar Bjørhovde said.

“This channel is very cautious about importing new inventory, which contributes to low Q4 deliveries. Supported by strong promotional offers from suppliers and channels, the year-end sales season has come to an end. While low-to-medium demand declined rapidly in previous quarters, high-end demand began to weaken in Q4. The market performance in Q4 2022 was in stark contrast to Q4 2021, when demand increases and supply problems ease.”

Canalys is forecasting flat growth for smartphones in 2023.

Samsung retained its lead in sales for the full year, with a 22% market share compared to Apple’s 19%.

The slowdown in new smartphone shipments comes as shipments of used and refurbished smartphones hit all-time highs. IDC expects used smartphone shipments to increase from 283 million in 2022 to 413 million in 2016. The used segment has grown as suppliers like Samsung and Apple use trade-in programs to boost sales of new models.


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