Apple, Samsung and Huawei all report falling sales amid global smartphone slump

The coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the smartphone market hard, with global sales falling by a fifth in Q2 2020.

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The world's five biggest smartphone manufacturers all reported a fall in sales in the second quarter of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the global mobile phone industry.

According to Gartner, worldwide sales of smartphones fell by more than a fifth (20.4%) in the second quarter of 2020. A total of 295 million smartphones were sold worldwide in the three months to June, compared to 370 million in the same period in 2019. 

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Samsung experienced the largest decline in sales among the top five smartphone vendors, while Apple's iPhone sales remained largely flat year over year, after being the only company to report growing sales in Q1.

Although Huawei also saw a decline in smartphone sales year over year, it experienced 27.4% growth compared to Q1, moving it into a tie with Samsung for the top spot after holding the number two position during the first quarter of 2020.

Almost all major markets continued with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions for most of Q2 2020, except for China, which began lifting shelter-in-place measures in late March. Yet even with increased demand in Q2, sales in the country declined 7% during the period, with nearly 94 million smartphones sold.

"The improved situation in China saw demand recovering quarter on quarter," said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.

"Travel restrictions, retail closures and more prudent spending on nonessential products during the pandemic led to the second consecutive quarterly decline in smartphone sales this year." 

India, which adopted rigorous lockdowns that even saw some e-commerce restricted, recorded the worst decline in smartphone sales among the top five countries in the world, plummeting 46% year on year.

A tough year for smartphone sales

The coronavirus pandemic caused the global smartphone market to experience its worst decline in history in the first quarter of 2020, after spending from consumers dried up. Sales of smartphones plummeted 20.2%, with Asian manufacturers including Huawei, Samsung and Oppo all recording double-digit declines.

Whereas Huawei was the worst-hit vendor in the first quarter of 2020, Samsung recorded the largest decline among the top five global smartphone vendors in Q2.

The South Korean manufacturer sold just shy of 55 million smartphones in the period, a decline of 27.1% year on year. Although Samsung's manufacturing independence from China spared it the brunt of factory closures in Q1, demand for its flagship S Series smartphones did little to revive its smartphone sales globally in the second quarter, Gartner said.

Huawei's smartphone sales dropped 6.8% in Q2, totalling 54 million units. According to Gartner, the manufacturer's performance in China -- which saw "an aggressive product introduction and sales promotion" -- helped it avoid an even worse quarterly performance.  

"Huawei extended its lead in China where it captured 42.6% of China's smartphone market in the second quarter of 2020," said Gupta. "[It] benefited from the strong support of communications services providers for its 5G smartphones."

Apple sold 38 million iPhones in the second quarter of 2020, a decline of 0.4% year over year. Gartner said Apple's sales fared better than most smartphone vendors, thanks in part to the introduction of the new iPhone SE, which successfully encouraged users of older handsets to upgrade.

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