The year 2022 was proved to be a testing time for the global smartphone industry as all top five companies reported yearly decline in shipments. Surprisingly, the fourth quarter, despite being known as the holiday shopping season, witnessed the largest ever year-over-year decline in global smartphone shipments. According to IDC, worldwide smartphone shipments declined an 18.3% YoY in Q4 2022, to 300.3 million units. This was the 6th consecutive quarter of the year-over-year decline in the global smartphone shipments.
It is also worth noting that all five top OEMs experienced double-digit decline in their smartphone shipments worldwide during the holiday quarter of 2022.
During the entire 2022, global smartphone OEMs shipped a total of 1,205.5 million units, registering an 11.3% YoY decline. The year witnessed the lowest annual shipments of smartphones since 2013, mainly due to disappointingly low consumer demand, high inflation, and economic uncertainties.
The trend was first observed in 2021. The year started on positive note as both Q1 and Q2 quarters of 2021, the market witnessed double-digit growth in the smartphone shipments, but this came to an end in the third quarter. In Q3 2021, the global smartphone shipments tumbled 6.7% YoY, to 331.2 million units. The trend, however, trend continued till Q4 2022.
Now let’s have a closer look at the world’s top five smartphone companies based on shipment figures and year-over-year growth or decline during the holiday quarter and throughout the entire 2022.
World’s top 5 smartphone brands 2022
Apple became the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer in Q4 2022, despite registering 14.9% YoY decline in iPhone shipments. The Cupertino giant shipped 72.3 million units of iPhone during the quarter, globally.
For the full year, Apple maintained its second place in the list of top 5 smartphone companies of 2022 by shipping 226.4 million iPhone units worldwide.
The fourth quarter (October-December) has always been the best year for Apple in terms of iPhone shipments. The demand for new iPhones skyrockets every year during the fourth quarter, because of the launch of new iPhone models in September every year. In addition, people all over the world wait for December holidays to purchase new products as companies offers some jaw-dropping discounts on smartphones and other electronic gadgets during the festive month.
Despite facing criticism for its exorbitant price, iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro Max emerged as the best-selling iPhone models in the United States in Q4 2022.
Samsung maintained its dominant position in the global smartphone industry in 2022. The Korean giant shipped 260.9 million units of devices during the entire year, albeit with 4.1% YoY decline.
The fourth quarter performance, however, was quite underwhelming. Samsung was dethroned by Apple in Q4 2022, similar to what happened in Q4 2021. The shipment share shrunk below 20% in the fourth quarter of both 2022 and 2021. Samsung’s smartphone shipments declined 15.6% YoY in Q4 2022, to 58.2 million units, worldwide.
Xiaomi emerged as the biggest loser in the worldwide smartphone market in 2022. The Chinese giant experienced massive 26.3% YoY and 19.8% YoY decline in Q4 2022 and 2022, respectively. Xiaomi shipped only 33.2 million units in Q4 2022, bringing the year’s total to 153.1 million units.
This was primarily due to Xiaomi’s subpar performance in India, where it had ruled for the five years until Q3 2022. It is important to note that Xiaomi India’s smartphone shipments declined a massive 40% YoY to just 5.5 million units during Q4 2022. The ongoing tussles with various government bodies, US-China trade war, inflation, demand-supply gap, etc. are the factors behind Xiaomi’s declining smartphone shipments in India.
Oppo and Vivo, once again, successfully secured a position in the list of world’s top five smartphone companies. Both Chinese OEMs have been struggling to record growth in their devices shipments, globally. In fact, since Q4 2021, both companies continue to register double-digit decline in their quarterly shipments of smartphones, worldwide.
Oppo’s smartphone shipments declined 15.9% YoY and 22.7% YoY in Q4 2022 and 2022, respectively. On the other hand, Vivo smartphone shipments declined 18.9% YoY and 22.8% YoY in Q4 2022 and 2022, respectively.
“We have never seen shipments in the holiday quarter come in lower than the previous quarter. However, weakened demand and high inventory caused vendors to cut back drastically on shipments,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC ‘ s Worldwide Tracker team.
The holiday quarter performances of all top five smartphone companies indicate that the consumers are concerned about the rising inflation.
Aggressive promotions during the quarter helped smartphone companies clear off existing inventory but didn’t drive sales growth. Companies are becoming more prudent in their shipment making plans while focusing on profit. What this holiday season indicates is that increasing inflation and a growing concern about macroeconomics are causing consumers to cut back on spending, even more than was anticipated and could delay any recovery until the end of 2023.
We continue to witness consumer demand dwindle as refresh rates climb past 40 months in most major markets, said Anthony Scarsella, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.