Apple passes Samsung for top position in worldwide smartphone market in Q4

Apple logo on wall

Apple surpassed Samsung for the leading position in the worldwide smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to global marketing intelligence firm IDC.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant topped the charts with iPhone shipments of 77.3 million units, although this was a year-over-year decline of 1.3 percent. IDC attributes Apple’s success to its decision to release three smartphones last year — the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in September and the iPhone X in November.

In fact, Q4 2017 as a whole was the company’s biggest quarter in history, according to Apple’s latest earnings report.

Samsung, meanwhile, shipped 74.1 million phones in this quarter, marking a 4.4 percent decrease year-over-year. The South Korean tech giant’s phone lineup was led by the Galaxy S8 and S8+ and the Galaxy Note 8.

Worldwide smartphones shipments as a whole were down, however, with vendors shipping a total of 403.5 million units — a 6.3 percent decline when compared to the final quarter of 2016. For the full year, though, the worldwide smartphone market saw a total of 1.472 billion units shipped, less than one percent of a drop from 2016.

“The latest flock of posh flagships may have had consumers hitting the pause button in the holiday quarter,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager of mobile phones at IDC, in a press statement. “With ultra-high-end flagships all the rage in 2017, many of these new bezel-less wonders proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity among upgraders. Even though we have seen new full-screen displays, advanced biometrics, and improved artificial intelligence, the new and higher price points could be outweighing the benefits of having the latest and greatest device in hand.”

Overall, Samsung placed first in 2017 phone market, finishing the year with 317.3 million shipments — a 1.9 percent increase from those shipped in 2016. As IDC notes, Samsung was forced to spend much of 2017 cleaning up the leftover damage dealt by the widespread battery issues of the previous year’s Galaxy Note 7 model. With that now well in the past, Samsung can look forward to a strong start of 2018 with the impending release of the Galaxy S9.

Apple finished second for the full year by shipping 215.8 million units, up 0.2 from the year prior. Apple’s 2018 plans for its smartphone brand are a little less certain than Samsung’s, although analysts expect iPhone X production to wind down during the summer. According to analysts, iPhone users shouldn’t expect a follow-up to the smaller SE model, either.

Rounding out the top three is Huwaei, shipping 41 million units in the fourth quarter, a 9.7 percent drop year-over-year. 2017 as a year was kind to the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, though, with worldwide shipments reaching 153.1 million units, a 9.9 percent rise from 2016.

IDC’s full report can be viewed here.