Smartphones sales at record low in first quarter

Sharp decline in shipments as Covid-19 pandemic hits supply chain in China

Smartphone sales fell by 11.7 per cent during the first quarter, the largest annual decline ever recorded.

New figures published by research company IDC shows 275.8 million smartphones were shipped during the first three months, with Chinese sales down 20.3 per cent as the coronavirus crisis took hold.

The dependency on the Chinese supply chain led to decline in other regions with sales down 18.3 per cent in Western Europe and 16.1 per cent in the US.

Alternative figures provided by Canalys also highlighted a sharp decline in sales globally. Its figures suggest smartphone shipments fell 13 per cent to 272 million in the first quarter.


"In February, when the coronavirus was centered on China, vendors were mainly concerned about how to build enough smartphones to meet global demand. But in March, the situation flipped on its head. Smartphone manufacturing has now recovered, but as half the world entered lockdown, sales plummeted," said Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton.

According to IDC's data, Samsung regained its top position among smartphone makers with 58.3 million units shipped. While this is down 18.9 per cent lower than the same quarter a year earlier , it leaves Samsung with 21.1 per cent market share.

Huawei remains in second place with a 17.9 per cent share, despite shipments falling by 17.1 per cent to 49 million units.

Apple shipped 36.7 million phones during the three months, down just 0.4 per cent year-on-year. It has a 13.3 per cent market share with Xiomi and Vivo rounding out the top five smartphone manufacturers globally.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist