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COVID-19 Impact: Global Smartphone Sales Plummet 13% in Q1 2020, Samsung Worst Hit

Photo for representation

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This is the first time since Q1 2014, that the smartphone market has fallen below 300 million units in a quarter.

The global smartphone market declined its fastest ever, down 13 percent year-on-year in Q1 2020, driven mainly by the impact of COVID-19 in the China market which was the initial epicentre of the pandemic, said a new report. Samsung led the smartphone market during the quarter capturing one-fifth of the global smartphone shipments, said the report from Counterpoint Research. This is the first time since Q1 2014, that the smartphone market has fallen below 300 million units in a quarter. The ongoing effect of the pandemic on the smartphone market is likely to be worse in the second quarter, said the report. Huawei continued its push in China and surpassed Apple again during the quarter to capture the No. 2 position in the global smartphone market.

The company captured 17 percent share of the global market, while Apple grabbed 14 percent. Apple remained resilient even during the COVID-19 as iPhone shipments declined only 5 percent year-on-year during the quarter. Xiaomi and Oppo rounded up the top five vendors, according to Counterpoint Research.

By the end of the quarter, as COVID-19 started to spread to other regions, and lockdowns of varying severity were imposed, the pendulum of disruption started to swing from supply to demand, said the report. "From the consumer standpoint, unless replacing a broken phone, smartphones are mostly a discretionary purchase. Consumers, under these uncertain times, are likely to withhold making many significant discretionary purchases," Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, said in a statement.

This means the replacement cycles are likely to become longer," he added. While 5G smartphone shipment share increased to 8 percent in Q1 2020 from 1 percent in Q4 2019, COVID 19 has also impacted the pace of 5G rollouts in some countries. "COVID-19 has disrupted the implementation plans of 5G in some countries, with auctions being postponed in markets like Spain and India. However, led by Huawei, the growth of 5G in China remains as expected," said Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research.