Global smartphone sales have dropped nearly 15pc this year

28 Apr 2023

Image: © Mihail/

Samsung has retained the top spot but suffered a sales drop of roughly 19pc, while Apple has managed to narrow the gap between the two companies.

Smartphone sales are continuing a downward trend with a decline of 14.6pc in the first quarter of 2023, according to market research company IDC.

The company’s preliminary report reveals that this is the seventh consecutive quarter of decline, citing lukewarm demand, inflation and macroeconomic uncertainties as the causes. IDC had predicted a fall of 12.7pc but said the results “aren’t surprising”.

“Inventory has remained elevated across regions, however it is in significantly better shape compared to six months ago thanks to reduced shipments and heavy promotional activities,” IDC said.

The report claims almost all regions suffered a double digit decline in their smartphone sales, with China facing a “close to 12pc drop”. Developed markets fared better, with the US and Western Europe having declines of 11.5pc and 9.4pc respectively, while emerging markets saw larger drops.

Ryan Reith, group VP with IDC’s worldwide tracker team, believes based on discussions with manufacturers that the smartphone industry is “collectively gaining confidence” that growth will return later in the year and into 2024.

“The largest supply side pullback in recent months was primarily those brands that serve the mid to low end of the market,” Reith said. “This is usually where competition is high and margins are low.

“Typically, these players are more hesitant to ramp back up again, and while this may still be the case, we are starting to see signs that optimism is growing amongst this crowd.”

Apple is closing the Samsung gap

In terms of smartphone companies, Samsung retained the top spot with 60.5m sales, representing 22.5pc of global market share. The company’s dominance dipped a little during this quarter however, as its sales fell by 18.9pc compared to the same period in 2022.

Samsung’s latest earnings report confirmed estimates that its profits have plummeted this year, with roughly a 95pc net income decline compared to the same quarter in 2022.

Xiaomi had the biggest year-on-year decline with a 23.5pc drop in sales, but once again came in third with 11.4pc of this quarter’s market share.

Apple retained the second position behind Samsung, but suffered the least out of the major smartphone suppliers listed by the IDC report.

The company’s sales fell by only 2.3pc, with its current market share standing at 20.5pc. There was roughly a 5m difference in terms of smartphone sales between Samsung and Apple in this quarter.

Recent research from Counterpoint suggests Apple managed to dominate certain sectors of the smartphone industry in 2022. The company is believed to have taken 49pc of global refurbished smartphone sales and 75pc of the premium smartphone market last year.

But IDC research also suggests Apple has been hit the most in terms of PC sales, with the global market falling by roughly 29pc in the first quarter of 2023. Apple is estimated to have suffered suffering a 40.5pc drop in its PC sales during this period.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic