European smartphone shipments 'lowest' for nine years

A pile of smartphones from different brands on a black desk
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Tereza Hanoldova)

Smartphone shipments in Europe fell by 12% to 49 million during the first quarter of 2022 – the lowest volume for the three-month period in nine years.

The figures from Counterpoint Research and strength to concerns that geopolitical and economic uncertainty will hinder any chance of a major recovery in the market.

Traditionally weak seasonal demand has been compounded by Covid-19 related lockdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the rising cost of living in many countries, and the ongoing component shortage that is hampering production.

China smartphone sales

Samsung’s shipments fell by 16% year-on-year but it still remains the largest vendor in the region with a 35% share, while Apple’s shipments fell 6% as it stayed in second place with 25% share. Xiaomi saw shipments fall by a third, while Oppo’s fell slightly by 8%. 

However, Realme increased shipments by 67% to double its market share to 4% - enough for fifth place.

Analysts at Counterpoint Research said it was likely that detereoirating economic conditions and the effects of war will likely drive further declines in 2022.

“Existing issues such as Covid-19 and component shortages have been exacerbated by new economic and geopolitical challenges,” suggested Counterpoint Research’s Associate Director, Jan Stryja. “Rising inflation levels across the region are impacting consumer spending, while Samsung and Apple, Russia’s first and third ranked smartphone vendors, halted all shipments into Europe’s largest market in early March 2022.

“The two vendors make up around half of Russian smartphone shipments, but their combined shipments in Russia account for only 6% of total European smartphone shipments.

“The consequences of their withdrawal are, therefore, still relatively small on a regional scale. However, the impact of the war may develop wider ramifications if it leads to a drop in availability of raw materials, a rise in prices, further inflationary pressure and/or other vendors withdrawing from Russia”.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.