Statistics Reveal The Largest Smartphone Vendor in the Past 14 Years

Since the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, we have seen the steady rise of the Smartphone Revolution until Covid hit in 2020, when smartphone sales took a dip. On a brighter note for the smartphone industry, market research group IDC predicts that the transition to 5G may actually boost the smartphone industry to even greater heights by 2025.

If you were wondering which the largest smartphone vendors have been during the past 14 years, you may just be in for a little surprise…

Percentage share of global smartphone market (2007 - 2010)

Nokia’s global market share stood at a whopping 42% average between 2007 and 2010

We see Nokia as the biggest contender from 2007 to 2010, with about 60 - 100 million units shipped each year. According to global sales and shipment figures, this equates to an average market share of about 42% for Nokia, 15.8% for RIM (BlackBerry) 10.8% for Apple, followed by HTC with 5.1%, and then Samsung with just 3.7%.

Percentage share of global market share (2011 - 2020)

Samsung dominated the smartphone market share during the past dedicated with an average market share of 23.20%

Since 2011, Samsung’s affordability has seen it quickly overtake Apple. Despite Apple’s high cost, it’s still one of the most sought after brands, after all, they are the leaders in the game, with their own operating system (iOS) and consistent design. Over the last 10 years, Apple followed closely behind Samsung with a constant average market share of about 15.7%, achieving its highest market share of 19.8% in 2012.

Samsung fluctuated between its lowest of 18.8% in 2018 and highest of 32.6% in 2013, with an average of about 23.2% during this period.

Global Sales (2007 - 2020)

Global smartphone sales increased year on year up to 2019. In 2020 there was a huge decline in sales mainly due to supply shortage.

Overall, we saw Smartphone sales increase exponentially in the first 7 years from about 122 million units sold to over the 1 billion unit mark - which was actually over 1,2 billion units sold in 2014. Sales continued to increase over the next 5 years to about 1,5 billion units in 2019, until 2020, when Covid struck. In just one year global sales dropped back down to about 1.3 billion, taking sales back to 2015 levels.

In short, Nokia began as the largest smartphone vendor and held this title for 4 years, until succeeded by Samsung, which has been the largest smartphone vendor for the past 10 years.

The 5 best selling smartphones since 2003

Apple has 3 of the top 5 selling smartphones of all time.

Great news for iPhone fans - the best-selling smartphone model of all time was the iPhone 6 with 222 million units sold. Then came the Nokia 6600 with 150 million units, Nokia 5230 with 150 million, then the iPhone 11 with 102.1 million units and finally the iPhone 12 collection in 2020 with 100 million units.

It’s worth noting that the iPhone has been the number 1 top selling smartphone for the last 5 years, with around 78.3 million iPhone 7’s sold in 2016, 86.3 million iPhone 8’s in 2017, 77 million iPhone XR models in 2018, 102.1 million iPhone 11’s in 2019 and 100 million iPhone 12’s sold in 2020. Although Samsung may have sold more as a brand, these iPhone models have proven to be the best-selling smartphones compared to any other model over the past 5 years.

Make Model Type Year Million Units
Apple iPhone 11 Touchscreen 2019 102.1
Apple iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max Touchscreen 2020 100
Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Touchscreen 2017 86.6
Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Touchscreen 2016 78.3
Apple iPhone XR Touchscreen 2018 77.4

Smartphone Battle of the Titans - Smartphone unit shipments worldwide 2015 - 2020

For all you Apple fans out there, you will be glad to see that Apple followed very closely behind Samsung’s reign - and another thing to note is that their sales were very constant. In the earlier smartphone years, Apple was in second place, after Nokia. It is also said that Apple was the one who kicked off the Smartphone revolution, to begin with, with its first iPhone in 2007 (although it is recorded that IBM invented the first smartphone called the Simon Personal Computer in 1992)

Percentage Increase/decrease during covid in 2020

While many smartphone companies struggled during 2020, Chinese companies increased sales by 18% YOY. According to reuters it is now the world’s second largest smartphone producer overtaking Apple, with 53 million smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2021

We see from the smartphone shipment figures in Table 2 above that the biggest smartphone contenders globally were Samsung, followed by Apple and then Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO. We also see in 2020, that even though Samsung and Huawei’s sales may have dropped significantly during covid, we see that Apple and Xiaomi’s sales actually went up: with Apple rising by about 8% and Xiaomi rising by an almost incredible 18%.

Last 3 years vs. previous 3 years

(2018-2020 vs. 2015-2017)

Chinese companies Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO continue to increase smartphone sales YOY while sales for other companies, like Samsung and Apple have gone down.

Another interesting statistic we see is that as Samsung and Apple's sales were both lower during the last 3 years from 2018 - 2020, the other 3 contenders: Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO’s sales have risen quite significantly. Average sales for both Samsung and Apple dropped by about 10% and 9%, while Xiaomi, Huawei and OPPO increased their sales by about 83%, 59%, and 33% respectively.

Global Market share winners and losers in 2021

Xiaomi continues to gain global market share quarter on quarter and Huawei falls out of the top 5 mostly due to the US trade ban. It’s worth noting that Apple has now regained the #2 spot thanks to strong iPhone 13 sales

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Mobile Subscriptions now Outnumber people

In 2005, Europe had the highest number of mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, with 89.3, then the Americas with 52.1 and Africa with just 12.4. By 2020 both Europe and the Americas had more mobile phone subscriptions than people: Europe had 122.7 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants; the Americas 110.9 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. This may seem strange at first glance, but it is quite common for people to have both a business and personal phone, or an additional phone with just a data SIM.

Europe Per 100 Inhabitants The Americas Per 100 Inhabitants Arab States Per 100 Inhabitants Africa Per 100 Inhabitants Asia & Pacific Per 100 Inhabitants
2005 581 89.3 459 52.1 84 26.3 87 12.4 833 22.6
2006 661 101.2 552 62 125 38.8 129 17.8 1074 28.8
2007 735 112.1 649 71.1 173 52.6 174 23.5 1398 37.1
2008 771 117.1 741 80.8 213 63.2 246 32.2 1773 46.6
2009 771 116.6 809 87.3 263 76.5 298 38 2164 56.3
2010 761 114.7 881 94.2 312 87.5 366 44.3 2625 97.1
2011 783 117.7 952 100.8 352 96.4 441 51.9 3029 76.7
2012 800 120 995 104.2 382 102.2 510 58.4 3234 81
2013 814 121.7 1043 108.2 408 106.7 581 64.7 3463 85.9
2014 809 121.1 1093 112.3 415 106.3 644 69.7 3681 90.4
2015 809 119.4 1103 113 419 105.7 714 76.1 3778 91.6
2016 808 118.9 1114 113.1 417 103.2 714 74.1 4094 98.1
2017 812 119 1104 111.1 417 101 744 73.2 4331 103.2
2018 813 118.8 1124 112.2 416 99 780 77.2 4497 106.2
2019 818 119.2 1139 12.7 424 99 836 80.1 4709 110.3
2020 847 122.7 1129 110.9 427 98 882 82.3 4503 104.6

Market share of mobile operating systems worldwide 2012-2021

The mobile operating system is dominated by IOS and Android with a combined global market share of 99%.

Android maintained its position as the leading mobile operating system with 73% market share, while Apple’s IOS is second with around 26%. Both operating systems were launched in 2007. Android’s dominance is obvious due to the fact that the majority of smartphones, like Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei, are sold with pre-installed Android operating systems. Will the large smartphone vendors like Samsung and Xiaomi create their own operating system in the future? Only time will tell.