Huawei overtakes Samsung as world's No. 1 smartphone seller
China’s Huawei has overtaken Samsung to become the No. 1 smartphone seller worldwide in the second quarter, underscoring the resilience of the China market even as global demand for phones plunged amid the pandemic.
Industry tracker Canalys said Thursday the embattled firm, which is facing US sanctions, shipped 55.8 million devices the April-June period — overtaking Samsung for the first time, which shifted 53.7 million units.
The findings marked the first quarter in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple has led the market, Canalys said.
US sanctions had “stifled” Huawei’s business outside China’s mainland, the research group added, but it had grown to dominate its substantial home market.
More than 70 percent of Huawei smartphones are now sold in the country, Canalys said, where Samsung has a very small share of the market.
China took an early hit from the coronavirus pandemic but has since reclaimed ground as new cases have dwindled. Smartphone makers dominant in other countries are still struggling as new virus cases continue to rise.
Huawei’s sales fell 5 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, while South Korea’s Samsung posted a 30 percent drop due to weak demand in key markets including Brazil, the United States and Europe.
Huawei said in a statement it was a sign of “exceptional resilience.”
Overseas shipments, however, fell nearly a third in the second quarter and Canalys analyst Mo Jia warned that strength in China alone “will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover.”
Samsung said it expects smartphone demand to pick up in the second half of the year.
The United States has effectively blocked Huawei from using Google’s services, damaging the attractiveness of the Chinese company’s phones abroad, and limited its access to chips crucial for 5G networking.
S&P Global Ratings said in a report on Wednesday the latest restrictions on Huawei could wipe out US$25 billion in revenue from several Asia-based firms. Huawei has yet to publicly address the impact these curbs will have on its operations.
It remains unclear how much of Huawei’s second-quarter sales were driven by its 5G smartphones and high-end models that are most vulnerable to the restrictions, said Nicole Peng, vice president of Mobility at Canalys.
Washington has also waged a global campaign to isolate the company.
The British government bowed to growing US pressure and pledged earlier this month to remove Huawei from its 5G network by 2027, despite opposition from Beijing.
On Wednesday, the US ambassador in Brasilia warned of “consequences” if Brazil chooses Huawei for the project to develop the next generation of telecommunications technology in Latin America’s most populous country.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US opposed the use of Huawei products not on national security grounds, but because they objected to the rise of Chinese firms.