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COVID-19: Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Fall 13%

The COVID-19 pandemic caused global shipments of smartphones to fall by 13% in the first quarter of the year, hitting 272 million units, according to tech market research firm Canalys.

“In February, when the coronavirus was centred on China, vendors were mainly concerned about how to build enough smartphones to meet global demand,” said Ben Stanton, Senior Analyst at Canalys. “But in March, the situation flipped on its head. Smartphone manufacturing has now recovered, but as half the world entered lockdown, sales plummeted.”

China’s smartphone shipments fell even more sharply in Q1, declining by 18% year-on-year to 73 million.

Prior to Q1 2020, the global smartphone market recorded two consecutive quarters of growth.

Samsung has returned to the top of the market in terms of global smartphone shipments, accounting for 21.9% of the market with 59.6 million shipments. However, this represented a year-on-year decline of 17% for the brand.

In its Q1 earnings report Samsung said: “Looking ahead to the second quarter, demand is expected to drop sharply in most regions due to an economic downturn caused by COVID-19.” In the first quarter Samsung was able to report a “higher-than-expected” share of Galaxy S20 Ultra sales and “solid sales” of the Galaxy Z Flip.

Huawei placed second in terms of global market share (18%), and was the only major provider in China that was able to grow its shipments in that market in Q1.

Apple placed third globally, representing 13.6%. iPhone sales fell by 2.9% year-on-year.

“Most smartphone companies expect Q2 to represent the peak of the coronavirus’ impact,” said Stanton.

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