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COVID sees global smartphone sales plunge by 20%

Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users decline 20.4% to reach 295 million units in the second quarter of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the global mobile phone industry.

New figures released by analyst firm Gartner showed Samsung experienced the largest decline in sales, while Apple’s smartphone sales were nearly flat year-over-year. 

Although Huawei also declined in smartphone sales year-over-year, it experienced 27.4% growth, quarter-over-quarter, moving it into a virtual tie with Samsung for the No.1 position.

 Almost all major markets, except China, continued to face some form of shelter-in-place restrictions for most of the second quarter of 2020 which led to continued declining smartphone demand. 

“The improved situation in China saw demand recovering quarter on quarter,” says Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. 

“Travel restrictions, retail closures and more prudent spending on nonessential products during the pandemic led to the second consecutive quarterly decline in smartphone sales this year.” 

 Even with increased demand, smartphone sales in China declined 7% in the second quarter of 2020, with nearly 94 million smartphones sold. India which adopted rigorous lockdowns (even restricting e-commerce) recorded the worst smartphone sales decline (-46%) among the top five countries in the world.

 Samsung sold nearly 55 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2020, a decline of 27.1% year on year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continued to negatively affect Samsung’s performance in the second quarter of 2020,” says Gupta. 

“Demand for its flagship S Series smartphones did little to revive its smartphone sales globally.”

Huawei’s smartphone sales dropped 6.8% and totalled 54 million units year on year. “Huawei’s performance in China helped it avoid a worse quarterly performance,” says Gupta.

“Huawei extended its lead in China where it captured 42.6% of China’s smartphone market in the second quarter of 2020. Huawei put in place an aggressive product introduction and sales promotion in China in particular and benefited from the strong support of communications services providers for its 5G smartphones," he says.

 Apple sold 38 million iPhones in the second quarter of 2020, a decline of 0.4% year on year. 

“Apple’s iPhone sales fared better in the quarter than most smartphone vendors in the market and also grew sales quarter on quarter,” says Annette Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner. 

“The improved business environment in China helped Apple achieve growth in the country. In addition, the introduction of the new iPhone SE encouraged users of older phones upgrade their smartphones.”