China’s Huawei Technologies snatched the title of biggest smartphone seller from Samsung Electronics in the second quarter, underscoring the resilience of the China market even as global demand for phones plunged amid the pandemic.
Samsung was affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, its sales going down over 25% on a yearly basis. At the same time, Apple was the only major player to increase shipments both on a quarterly and yearly basis.
Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices in the April-June period, trumping Samsung’s 53.7 million, according to data from research firm Canalys. The Chinese company has felt the heat of US sanctions that have disrupted its business overseas – but the latest numbers show its rising dominance in its home market.
Samsung said on Thursday it expects smartphone demand to pick up in the second half of the year. Every company bar Samsung and Realme managed to improve on its Q1 numbers.
Huawei now sells nearly two-thirds of its handsets in China, which 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 Samsung posted a 30 percent drop due to weak demand in key markets including Brazil, the US, and Europe.
The company’s stint as the top seller may prove short-lived once other markets recover, a senior Huawei employee with knowledge of the matter stated.
The US 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.
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.
User purchasing behavior is expected to be highly influenced by the strides made in fighting the outbreak and containment of the subsequent threat of new outbreaks. Some countries that looked like they contained COVID-19 are now recording uptick in positive cases, and that might negatively affect sales in the remaining two quarters of 2020.