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Global Smartphone Market Grows 4% for First Time Since 2017

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The global smartphone market recorded growth for the first time in almost 5 years, with annual shipments touching 1.39 billion units in 2021. However, despite growing 4% YoY, annual sales still remained lower than pre-pandemic levels due to component shortages.

In comparison, the highest global smartphone shipments occurred in 2017, which was 1.55 billion units. Noted, this success is a record that has not been broken. The recovery in growth was driven by strong post-pandemic demand in regions such as North America, Latin America and India.

Meanwhile, in the United States, most of the demand was for Apple’s first 5G-supported device, the iPhone 12 series. And in India, the best sales came from higher replacement rates, better availability, and more attractive financing options.

Instead, there was a surprise in China, with the market shrinking due to supply-side issues and combined with demand-side concerns from extended replacement cycles. Apple’s global smartphone shipments grew 18% YoY to reach a record 237.9 million units in 2021 due to the favorable response to the iPhone 12 series.

Apple, the Cupertino-based technology company, has even become the top smartphone brand in China, surpassing vivo. Not only that, Apple also managed to overtake Samsung as the No. 1 smartphone brand globally in Q4 2021.

On another note, Xiaomi’s global shipments also hit a record high, with a total of 190 million units in 2021, which is a 31% YoY growth. Despite performing well in the first half of the year, a supply shortage in H1 2021 saw him slip to fifth in his home country.

Joining those mentioned above, there is also OPPO which is another OEM to hit record shipments in 2021, growing by 28% and selling 143.2 million units. OPPO again suffered from supply constraints in the last quarter and most of its shipments were from H1 2021.

Meanwhile, vivo grew 21% YoY, reaching annual shipments of 131.3 million units last year. This is thanks to such strong offline penetration and such a broad product portfolio. However, vivo fell 9% YoY in Q4 2021, after being kicked out by Apple in China.

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