September 25, 2020

Smartphone sales plunged 20% in spring 2020 due to the pandemic

Apple emerged relatively unscathed, but Samsung and Huawei weren't so lucky.

OnePlus 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Huawei P40 Pro

  • Smartphone sales fell a whopping 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020 as the pandemic hit in force.
  • Samsung stayed on top, but it also took one of the worst hits.
  • Most other companies also suffered, although Apple survived mostly untouched.

If you suspected that the global smartphone market would tumble further as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in earnest, you guessed correctly.

Gartner analysts have estimated that worldwide smartphone sales dropped a sharp 20.4% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020, right when many countries were in full lockdown or had only slightly eased restrictions. India’s sales were particularly hard-hit, falling a whopping 46% compared to the same period in 2019.

Smartphone sales Q2 2020 numbers

gartner q2 2020 smartphone market share

Credit: Gartner

Not every phone maker fared the same, however. Samsung held onto its market share lead at 18.6%, but its sales dropped 27.1% in the quarter — it just barely edged out Huawei, whose much smaller dip (6.8%) helped it grab an 18.4% slice. Xiaomi and Oppo also took substantial hits to their sales of 21.5% and 15.9% respectively.

There was one outlier in the top five brands, however. Apple’s sales only dipped 0.4% during Spring, helped both by a recovering Chinese market and the low-cost iPhone SE. The company’s glowing performance in the US translated to the international stage, then. It ultimately claimed 13% of world smartphone sales.

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The researchers didn’t predict how phones would fare for the rest of 2020, although that’s not surprising. While a slew of new phone launches could boost demand, such as the Galaxy Note 20 family and upcoming iPhone models, it’s becoming increasingly clear that some lockdowns and other restrictions will persist for a while. The phone industry might not revisit its heyday until it’s safe enough to resume a normal life — and that’s unlikely to happen this year.