How Samsung Lost Top Position in Smartphone Market to Apple: Canalys Report

The recent Canalys report revealed how Samsung lost its top position in the global smartphone market in 2023 to main rival Apple.
Smartphone share of Samsung in 2023 Canalys reportDuring the course of 2023, Samsung strategically targeted the mid-to-high-end segment to enhance profitability. However, this focus resulted in a loss of market share in the low-end segment, ultimately causing Samsung to relinquish its top position in the global market.

Samsung has secured the second position with a 17 percent share in the global smartphone business, while Xiaomi followed closely in third place, experiencing a remarkable 20 percent year-on-year growth in Q4.

Canalys Research Manager Amber Liu, in the report, emphasized that Samsung’s rebound as an innovation leader in 2024 is anticipated, particularly with its upcoming product launches, which will prominently feature on-device AI in the high-end segment of the smartphone market.

Conversely, Apple demonstrated resilience over the past two years, driven by sustained demand in the high-end segment. The successful expansion of the iPhone 15 series signaled Apple’s strategic direction towards a more diverse consumer base. Apple claimed the top spot in the market for the fourth quarter, securing a 24 percent share of shipments, propelled by the success of its latest iPhone launches.
Share of Apple and Samsung in 2023 IDC report
The above chart from IDC indicates the smartphone share of top vendors: Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Transsion during the year 2023.

Looking ahead, Apple faces the challenge of exploring new market growth and bolstering its ecosystem strength to rejuvenate its iPhone business. The rising strength of Huawei and increased local competition in mainland China pose challenges to Apple’s growth trajectory in the region, while demand for high-end replacements in other major markets, including North America and Europe, is stabilizing.

TRANSSION rose to fourth place for the first time, benefiting from the recovery of emerging markets. vivo rounded off the top five with a 7 percent market share. Global smartphone shipments for the full year of 2023 totaled 1.1 billion units, marking a 4 percent decrease from the previous year.

Apple emerged as the year’s top vendor in terms of shipments, closely followed by Samsung, with both companies holding a 20 percent share. Xiaomi, OPPO, and TRANSSION secured 13 percent, 9 percent, and 8 percent shares, respectively.

Canalys Senior Analyst Toby Zhu highlighted that products in the mid-to-low-end price range are driving growth in this recovery wave, buoyed by increased demand in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

With the easing of inventory pressure and global inflation, vendors are now poised to focus on product innovation and long-term strategic developments, laying down solid foundations for the upcoming year. The market has already witnessed numerous flagship Android launches capitalizing on the on-device AI trend, with contributions from major players like Google Pixel and Chinese manufacturers such as HONOR, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi.

According to Canalys’ latest research, global smartphone shipments experienced an 8 percent year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2023, reaching a total of 320 million units. This positive trend marked the end of seven consecutive quarters of decline in the smartphone market.

Baburajan Kizhakedath