Smartphone Market Worldwide Recovered to Pre-COVID-19 Level in 2021, Samsung Maintained Lead: Canalys


Smartphone market worldwide recovered to pre-COVID-19 level in 2021 by growing seven percent year-on-year to 1.35 billion shipments, according to a report. The growth reported despite component supply shortages due to the pandemic that are still being faced by most players in the market globally. Samsung retained its market leadership in the year with a 20 percent share. It was followed by Apple. Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo were the other three in the list of top five smartphone vendors globally.

Analyst firm Canalys reported on Friday that the global smartphone market reached 1.35 billion units in 2021, close to the shipment mark of 1.37 billion units of 2019. This year’s shipments were also up from 1.26 billion units shipped in 2020.

“Many vendors delivered their best performance in 2021, expanding smartphone shipments by double digits to compare with, and surpass, pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Canalys Analyst Sanyam Chaurasia in a prepared statement. “The key growth driver for the industry came from the vast mass market segment, especially in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa as well as Latin America. Unfortunately, this segment also witnessed the most severe component shortages, especially in low-end 4G chipsets.”

Among other players, Samsung continued to lead the global market in 2021. The South Korean company shipped 274.5 million smartphone units, 19 million more than the 255.5 million units shipped in 2020 — or showing a seven percent annual growth. However, Samsung retained the market share of 20 percent that it captured in the previous year, the Canalys report said.

Apple remained in second place with 230.1 million units shipped in the year. The Cupertino company managed to ship 22.9 million more iPhone units from the 207.2 million units in 2020 that helped mark an 11 percent annual growth. It also grew its market share to 17 percent from 16 percent in the previous year.

After Samsung and Apple, Xiaomi came third. The Chinese company captured a market share of 14 percent by shipping 191.2 million units in 2021.

Xiaomi was followed by Oppo and Vivo that managed 11 and 10 percent market share last year, respectively. Oppo shipped 145.1 million units in the year that included OnePlus shipments. Vivo’s shipments, on the other hand, grew to 129.9 million, Canalys said.

The market share of other players declined to 28 percent in 2021 from 33 percent share in the previous year, the report shows.

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth in full-year 2021 as per Canalys

Vendor 2021 shipments (in million) 2021 market share 2020 shipments (in million) 2020 market share Annual growth
Samsung 274.5 20 percent 255.5 20 percent 7 percent
Apple 230.1 17 percent 207.2 16 percent 11 percent
Xiaomi 191.2 14 percent 149.6 12 percent 28 percent
Oppo 145.1 11 percent 119.4 9 percent 22 percent
Vivo 129.9 10 percent 112.6 9 percent 15 percent
Others 379.4 28 percent 420.5 33 percent -10 percent
Total 1,350.2 100 percent 1,264.7 100 percent 7 percent

“Apple’s record-breaking year in smartphones is no surprise, but Samsung was hit hard by supply and production issues in the year, and its key volume driver, the Galaxy A-series, saw shortages across the world,” said Canalys Research Analyst Le Xuan Chiew. “However, Samsung focussed on driving profitability, especially through its high-end portfolio. The Galaxy S and Z families have been critical to offset its falling volume share against Chinese vendors in the global market.”

On the part of quarterly shipments, Canalys said that the global smartphone market shipped 363 million units in the fourth quarter, showing a one percent year-on-year increase.

Apple led the market in the fourth quarter of 2021 with 82.7 million units that resulted in a share of 23 percent. Samsung, however, came second, with 70.5 million units shipped that resulted in a 19 percent share, the firm said.

Xiaomi maintained its third position on the part of quarterly shipments as well. The company shipped 45.4 million units and captured a share of 13 percent, as per Canalys.

Oppo and Vivo were the remaining brands in the list of top five smartphone vendors globally in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth in Q4 2021 as per Canalys

Vendor Q4 2021 shipments (in million) Q4 2021 market share Q4 2020 shipments (in million) Q4 2020 market share Annual growth
Apple 82.7 23 percent 81.8 23 percent 1 percent
Samsung 70.5 19 percent 62.0 17 percent 14 percent
Xiaomi 45.4 13 percent 43.4 12 percent 5 percent
Oppo 33.9 9 percent 36.3 10 percent -7 percent
Vivo 28.5 8 percent 32.1 9 percent -11 percent
Others 102.1 28 percent 103.9 29 percent -2 percent
Total 363.1 100 percent 359.6 100 percent 1 percent

Canalys forecasts that the ongoing supply constraints would gradually ease as chipmakers ramp up production and the price of 5G chipsets drops. This would eventually help 5G devices become the next volume driver in 2022, Chaurasia said.

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