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Huawei trampled on in smartphone Q1 frenzy

What a difference a year makes. During Q1 2020, Strategy Analytics reckoned Huawei commanded an 18% market share in global smartphone shipments.

In Strategy Analytics' presentation of Q1 2021 smartphone numbers, however, Huawei was shunted somewhat ignominiously into the "others" column.

Red flag: The fallout from US moves against Huawei continue as the vendor crashes out of smartphone rankings.
Red flag: The fallout from US moves against Huawei continue as the vendor crashes out of smartphone rankings.

The Chinese supplier, with its supply chain squeezed by US-led sanctions, has fallen out of the top five in a ranking of smartphone vendors by market share.

Boom time in China

All the more galling for Huawei is that the smartphone market is booming. Due to what Strategy Analytics called "healthy demand" from consumers with ageing devices, and a "phenomenal 5G push from Chinese vendors", the research firm calculated that smartphone shipments topped 340 million units in Q1 2021.

That translates into year-on-year growth of 24%, which, said Strategy Analytics, was the highest since 2015.

"The China smartphone market had a sensational quarter, driven by 5G product success across multiple price tiers," said Linda Sui, senior director at Strategy Analytics.

China smartphone shipments were up 35%, year-on-year, reaching 94 million units in Q1 2021.

"Chip shortages and supply side constraints did not have a significant impact in Q1 among the top five brands," added Sui, "but was and will be a concern for smaller vendors over the next few quarters in our view."

New lay of the land

With Huawei dropping out of the top-five, the smartphone Q1 2021 vendor ranking has a slightly different look about it compared with a year ago. Samsung and Apple, with market shares of 23% and 17% respectively, still occupy number one and two positions, but there the similarity ends.

Buoyed by their booming domestic market, Chinese vendors Xiaomi (15%), OPPO (11%) and Vivo (11%) occupy the next three slots. Each enjoyed a huge surge in smartphone shipments, with Xiaomi doing particularly well.


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"Xiaomi held third place in terms of volume of smartphones shipped for the second quarter in a row," explained Yiwen We, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

"It shipped 49 million smartphones globally and took a 15% market share in Q1 2021, up from 10% one year ago."

Globally, the top five vendors combined took a 76% market share in Q1 2021, up from 71% one year ago.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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