Samsung Huawei

Samsung and Huawei hit as smartphone sales decline 20%

01 June 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The sale of smartphones declined 20.2% in the first quarter of the year, with Samsung, Huawei and Oppo the worst hit, according to new analysis.

As Covid-19 shut down economies around the world, manufacturers, retailers and developers were all hit, contributing to significant performance declines across the top smartphone brands.

The only brand in the analysis to buck the trend was Xiaomi; Gartner said strong sales of Redmi devices in international markets – paired with an “aggressive” online channel focus –  led Xiaomi to outperform expectations.

Topping the table, Samsung’s smartphone sales declined 22.7% in Q1, however the company maintained a leading market share of 18.5%.

“The decline could have been much worse,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Samsung’s limited presence in China and the location of its manufacturing facilities outside of China prevented a steeper fall.”

Huawei recorded the worst performance among the top five global smartphone vendors, with its sales down 27.3% year on year, to 42.5 million units. Its market share stood at 14.2% at the end of the quarter, placing it second behind Samsung.

“Huawei will have a challenging year,” said Gupta. “It has developed the Huawei Mobile Service ecosystem, but with the lack of popular Google apps and Google Play store, Huawei is unlikely to attract new smartphone buyers in international markets.”

Apple was also impacted by supply constraints and store closures although its sales declined by a relatively tame 8.2%, totalling 41 million units.

Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner said: “Apple had a strong start to the year thanks to its new product line up that saw strong momentum globally. If Covid-19 did not happen, the vendor would have likely seen its iPhone sales reached record level in the quarter. Supply chain disruptions and declining consumer spending put a halt to this positive trend in February.

“Apple’s ability to serve clients via its online stores and its production returning to near normal levels at the end of March helped recover some of the early positive momentum,” she added.

In the context Oppo’s sales performance, Zimmermann highlighted that to grow market share, its online channel must be strengthened. Oppo’s smartphone sales declined 19.1%.