Huawei overtakes Apple to become world's 2nd biggest smartphone maker

Huawei has leapfrogged Apple to become the world’s second biggest smartphone maker during the second quarter of 2018.  

It’s a significant milestone for the Chinese firm which has enjoyed considerable success in its homeland over the past few years but has since sales increase dramatically over the past 12 months.

This can be attributed both to increased awareness of the brand through marketing and longevity, but also due to the critically-acclaimed Huawei P20 flagship.

IHS Markit claims that shipments rose 41 per cent year-on-year to 54.2 million units and managed a growth rates of 107 per cent in Asia-Pacific and more than 60 per cent in EMEA. What’s notable about Huawei’s second-placing is that it is effectively frozen out of the North American market.

Its overall share stands at 15.7 per cent.

Huawei smartphone growth

"Huawei is shifting to more value-added models, by launching new flagship smartphones with the latest features,” said Gerrit Schneemann, an analyst with HIS. “Huawei’s P20 Pro is the first flagship smartphone model to be equipped with triple cameras, beating competitors to market.”

"The continued growth of Huawei is impressive, to say the least, as is its ability to move into markets where, until recently, the brand was largely unknown," added Ryan Reith, an analyst from IDC, whose separate report has Huawei as number two as well.

Samsung suffered the biggest decline of the quarter, with shipments falling 10.8 per cent to 70.8 million, or 20.6 per cent of the market. However, this was still enough to retain first position, although it may be looking over its shoulder going forward.

“The company’s shipments were also down 9.2 percent quarter over quarter,” continued Schneemann.

“Samsung is struggling to fight off the competition with its Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus devices, and the company needs the next Galaxy Note to deliver in the latter part of the year. Samsung has been facing severe competition from Chinese manufacturers, especially Huawei and Xiaomi. These two brands have been disturbing Samsung’s smartphone sales in Europe and Asia.

“Combined shipment volume of four Chinese manufacturers — Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi — reached 145.4 million units, which is bigger than the 114-million-unit combined shipment volume of market leaders Apple and Samsung. The second quarter was also the first time these top four Chinese manufacturers shipped more smartphones than the two leading companies.”

Apple shipments were static at 41.3 million despite the fact the firm is selling nine models rather than the six it did this time last year. However, revenue is up 20 per cent thanks to the popularity of its more expensive iPhones, most notably the £999 iPhone X. It is in third place with 15 per cent of the market, the first time since Q2 2010 that it hasn’t occupied one of the top two positions.

Xiaomi is in fourth, Oppo fifth, Vivo sixth and LG’s decline continued as it slipped to 7th. Motorola’s popularity in Latin America ensured it finished eighth. In total, 344.6 million units were shipped – a fall of 1.8 per cent.

Huawei's growth in the Middle East

Huawei grabbed the second spot ahead of Apple in the Middle East and Africa as well. According to the GFK May 2018 report Huawei CBG market share in the Middle East and Africa was 21%, an increase of 31.25% when compared with the brand’s market share in December 2017. 

Huawei’s market share across countries in the MEA region exceeds 20%, including Levant at 37.4%, Oman at 30%, Saudi Arabia at 27%, Iraq at 25%, Egypt at 24%, Pakistan at 22.2% and the UAE at 20%.

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.