Gartner: Apple took Samsung’s smartphone crown in the Dec. quarter

For the year, Samsung is still No. 1.

From Gartner’s “Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Declined 5% in Fourth Quarter of 2020” posted Monday:

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020.

“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”

The launch of the 5G iPhone 12 series helped Apple record double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Apple surpassed Samsung to retake the No. 1 global smartphone vendor spot (see Table 1). The last time Apple was the top smartphone vendor was in the fourth quarter for 2016.

gartner apple overtakes samsung

Full Year 2020 Results: Samsung experienced a year-on-year decline of 14.6% in 2020, but this did not prevent it from retaining its No. 1 global smartphone vendor position in full year results.

gartner apple overtakes samsung

My take: Given the gross mistakes Gartner and IDC have published in the past, I assume the line about rounding errors is meant as a joke.

See, for example, Mac sales up 9.6% worldwide, says IDC. Down 0.2%, says Gartner


  1. Fred Stein said:
    @samsung: Sic transit gloria mundi

    Per Ben Bajarin, Apple/TSMC have at least a year lead on Samsung in chip design and fab.

    Our dynamic duo have plans to collaborate on displays.

    Apple won the User experience and loyalty crowns long ago.

    February 22, 2021
  2. Gregg Thurman said:

    Apple won the User experience and loyalty crowns long ago.

    And the Revenue, Profit Crowns as well. Units sold crown is, at best, worthy of a Duke and no more.

    February 22, 2021
    • David Drinkwater said:
      Yeah, the money-making crowns. I’m not usually the first to crow about profits, but Apple has been winning there do handily for so long that this is hardly “news”.

      February 22, 2021
  3. Mark Visnic said:
    I remember in 2010 or 2011 when Gartner forecast that the Windows phone would have greater share than the iPhone by 2015!

    My memory was correct ( there is hope!): here is a note from the Macobserver in 2015 calling Gartner out.
    Let us harken back to 2011. The global economy was climbing its way out of the Great Recession of 2008. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 was all the rage. Apple released iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, and of course, that was the year Steve Jobs died after many years of battling cancer.

    It was also when Gartner and IDC both predicted that Microsoft’s Windows Phone would surpass Apple’s iPhone to become the world’s second biggest mobile platform. They both penciled in Research In Motion’s (now BlackBerry) BlackBerry for 4th place.

    This chart from
    Near the end of March 2011, IDC forecasted in their Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report that by 2015, Windows Phone 7 would have leapfrogged past BlackBerry and iOS to claim the number two spot, with almost 21% market share:

    Operating System Predicted 2011
    Market Share Predicted 2015
    Market Share
    Android 39.5% 45.4%
    BlackBerry 14.9% 13.7%
    iOS 15.7% 15.3%
    Symbian 20.9% 0.2%
    Windows Phone 7 and
    Windows Mobile 5.5% 20.9%
    Others 3.5% 4.6%

    February 22, 2021
    • You’re real close to the mark, Mark. I’m still using an old iPad Air 2. It works fine on all sites I need. Battery charges enough for 4 or 5 hours of typing, but not gaming. 2 of the people I enjoyed microbrews with tonight were still satisfied with iPhone 8’s. I still tote an X. We could all afford a 12.
      Mobile quality, attributable to Apple, Samsung, Corning, TSM, Hon Hai and others, continues to lengthen upgrade cycles. Used phones sell everywhere, not just SE Asia. People stick to quality.

      February 22, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Gardner couldn’t have been more wrong if they intentionally tried to do so.

      February 23, 2021
      • Aaron Belich said:
        IDC/Gartner say whatever you pay them to say. They are akin to the ratings agencies that were critical in the downfall of the housing market. Thankfully, the technology world isn’t propping up the global financial system.

        February 23, 2021

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