Shipments of 5G smartphones grew 6% globally in the first quarter of 2021, with Samsung and Vivo benefitting the most amid a decline in the iPhone’s market share.
Global 5G shipments reached a record high of 136 million units in Q1 2021, according to new estimates from Strategy Analytics. The data firm predicts that a total of 624 million 5G smartphones could ship by the end of 2021, up significantly from 269 million units in 2020.
Apple led the pack during the first quarter with 29.8% of the total 5G smartphone market share. The Cupertino tech giant shipped an estimated 40.4 million 5G iPhone units. However, Apple appears to be losing ground with a 23% shipment decline in Q1 2021. The company’s market share also dipped from 40.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Other 5G smartphone makers appear to be gaining ground on Apple. Samsung grew 79% quarter-over-quarter, while Vivo jumped 62% from the prior quarter.
“Samsung is performing well with new 5G models, such as Galaxy S21 5G, S21 ultra 5G and S21+ 5G, in South Korea, North America, and parts of Europe. Vivo was the second fastest growing 5G smartphone vendor in Q1 2021, jumping 62% QoQ to 19 million units shipped, driven by its iQOO U3 5G and U7 5G smartphones,” said Associate Director Ville-Petteri Ukonaho.
Despite Samsung’s growth, however, the company is still lacking a solid footprint in the critical region of China — where Apple appears to be gaining ground on domestic vendors.
“Samsung is growing very fast in 5G smartphones, but it does have a major portfolio gap in China. Samsung has extremely low presence in China, the world’s biggest 5G market, and this remains a significant drag on the vendor’s outlook. Conversely, Chinese vendors largely have no presence in the high value US market, and this will be a drag on their ability to grow revenue or profit,” said Strategy Analytics Director Woody Oh.
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