Huawei slumps to 6th place in global smartphone shipments

US sanctions really started to bite for Huawei in Q4 2020, with the Chinese tech giant registering its lowest market share for five years.

The latest numbers from market researcher Counterpoint reveal that the overall smartphone market declined by 1% in Q4 2020 and 10% for the whole year. While Samsung didn’t have a great year, a lot of this was down to Huawei’s shipments being down 41% for the quarter and 22% for the year. It’s hard to sell phones when you’re not allowed to buy any chips.

“The market declined 10% YoY in CY 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, which impacted performance in the first half of the year,” said Aman Chaudhary of Counterpoint. “With the easing of lockdowns, the market rebounded in the second half thanks to pent-up demand being fulfilled by the streamlined supply chain.

“It is interesting to note that the market also made a distinct migration from feature phones to smartphones as the devices became a medium for education, work and entertainment. A strong 5G push by the industry through reduced device prices and operator tariffs further boosted the market’s recovery process.”

“5G shipments continued to accelerate registering a 120% QoQ jump in Q4,” said Harmeet Singh Walia of Counterpoint. “The overall 5G smartphone penetration increased to 34% of total smartphone shipments compared to 17% in the previous quarter. The growth was driven by the launch of the iPhone 12 and a strong portfolio of products from brands like OnePlus, OPPO, Xiaomi and vivo in the sub-$300 price band.

“Also, there was a large pent-up demand for 5G phones, especially within the iOS base. China accounted for ~40% of the total 5G smartphones shipped in CY 2020. Apple’s entry will be a strong influence in driving 5G adoption outside China in 2021.”

Here are the numbers.


  1. Avatar Michael Ferris 29/01/2021 @ 1:57 pm

    Is the Huawei drop off in Q4 partly down to the sale of its Honor brand, or is that included in the figure?

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 01/02/2021 @ 9:48 am

      Possibly although Counterpoint, whose numbers we use, doesn’t break out Honor. It could be among ‘others’ which may explain the spike in that number, but the Huawei decline seems fairly consistent with the q2-q3 one.

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