Following yesterday’s record-breaking earnings report where Apple announced over $100 billion in revenue — $65 billion of which came from iPhone sales — market research firms are now weighing in with their own estimates of exactly how many iPhone units that represents.
Although Apple stopped disclosing actual unit numbers a few years ago, opting instead to simply list total overall revenue from the “iPhone” category, that doesn’t stop analysts from reading the tea leaves and offering up their own well-educated guesses, and while these can vary quite a bit, it seems that either way you slice it, Apple has just come out on top of the global smartphone market, beating out its chief rival, Samsung.
It’s actually the culmination of a prediction made over a year ago, which foretold that Apple’s first entry into the 5G smartphone race would be such a big deal that it would unseat Samsung as the dominant player with Apple not having to do much more than simply show up to the party.
In fact, that late 2019 report from Strategy Analytics came at a time when only three 5G iPhone models were expected to be arriving, and suggested that Apple would blow past both then-current 5G market leaders — Samsung and Huawei — simply by matching the same upgrade rates as in previous years.
Of course, that report was simply talking about sales within the 5G market, which Apple nailed within the first two weeks of the iPhone 12 going on sale back in October, capturing 24 percent of the global 5G smartphone market share, eclipsing the top Samsung and Huawei 5G smartphones which together only accounted for 17 percent.
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple had seen a record number of activations over Christmas, which of course wasn’t surprising either as it was already reported late last month that the iPhone won Christmas again, making up 9 out of the top 10 smartphones activated on Christmas Day.
‘The iPhone 12 is a hit’
Now two separate reports from leading market research firms have pegged the total iPhone sales during the last quarter as somewhere between 82 million and 90 million units, which even on the conservative side is enough to beat out both Samsung and Huawei combined — not just in the 5G smartphone market, but in all smartphone models sold worldwide.
On the more conservative side, Canalys Research has reported that worldwide smartphone shipments reached 359.6 million units last quarter, while Apple shipped 81.8 million of those. While Canalys estimates that the global smartphone market declined by about 2%, Apple surpassed this with a 4% increase, year-over-year, while Samsung, while still occupying the second-place position, dropped to 62 million units for a decline of 12 percent.
The iPhone 12 is a hit. Apple is better positioned than its competitors on 5G, being heavily skewed towards developed markets, and mobile operator sales channels.Canalys Analyst Vincent Thielke
On the other hand, Huawei, which has already been getting picked to pieces by Apple’s incredibly strong iPhone sales in China, actually dropped below its other Chinese rivals Xiaomi and Oppo.
According to the numbers from Canalys, this gave Apple a 23% market share in Q4 2020 (Apple’s fiscal Q1 2021), while Samsung dropped to 17%, although Samsung still fared better across the entire year of 2020, with 255.6 million units sold, versus Apple’s 207.1 million, when you consider that the iPhone 12 was released in October, it’s easy to see how much ground Apple has gained in a relatively short time.
On the other end of the spectrum, IDC has weighed in with its own estimate of 90.1 million iPhones shipped by Apple last quarter, although it pegs it as having around the same share of the global market, at 23.4%, while giving Samsung a 19.1% market share with a higher estimate of 73.9 million devices sold by the rival Android handset maker.
Apple delivered a phenomenal performance in 4Q20, returning to the number 1 position with 90.1 million devices shipped, driven by the success of the iPhone 12 series. This represents the highest shipment volume from a vendor in a single quarter and resulted in 23.4% market share and 22.2% year-over-year growth.IDC
The IDC analysis also pegs a bigger spread between this last quarter and Apple’s year-ago quarter, estimating 73.8 million units sold in the 2019 holiday season, giving Apple a 22.2% year-over-year increase. Canalys suggests a more modest spread of only 4%, with sales of 78.4 million iPhones sold in Q4 2019 (Apple’s fiscal Q1 2020).
As Apple CEO Tim Cook shared during yesterday’s earnings call, Apple can now boast of over 1 billion iPhones actively in use, which is an increase of over 100 million since late 2019. This also points to Apple’s rapidly increasing iPhone market share, as it suggests that about half of the iPhones sold throughout 2020 were to customers who were new to the iPhone, many of whom were likely making the switch from rival Android devices.