Huawei takes Apple's place as world's second biggest smartphone maker

Gartner says Huawei overtook Apple to become the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer during the second quarter of 2018, joining previous analyst firms in making the pronouncement.

According to its most recent index, the firm said worldwide smartphone sales grew two per cent to 374 million, with Samsung shipments falling by 12.7 per cent to 72.3 million, giving it a market share of 19.3 per cent.

Analysts attributed the fall to intense competition from Chinese manufacturers, slowing demand for smartphones in general and for its flagship Galaxy S9 devices. The company will hope its Galaxy Note 9 phablet will provide a boost in the short term.

World smartphone market

In terms of operating system, Android extended its lead to 88 per cent of the market, with iOS securing almost the entirety of the remaining 12 per cent.

Huawei was the main benefactor of this drop, growing sales by 38.6 per cent to 49.9 million and increasing its share to 13.3 per cent. Its success has been attributed to the high-end Huawei P20 and mid-range handsets, including those released under the Honor brand.

“Huawei continues to bring innovative features into its smartphones and expand its smartphone portfolio to cover larger consumer segments," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "Its investment into channels, brand building and positioning of the Honor devices helped drive sales. Huawei is shipping its Honor smartphones into 70 markets worldwide and is emerging as Huawei’s key growth driver."

Apple shipments were relatively flat, growing just 0.9 percent, with demand for the IPhone X slowing much earlier than at the same point in the lifecycle of previous models. Its market share is 12.1 per cent.

"Growing competition from Chinese brands and consumers’ greater expectations for phone value is putting immense pressure on Apple to deliver enhanced value on their premium iPhones to foster growth," added Gupta.

The other major Chinese beneficiary was Xiaomi, whose market share grew from 5.8 per cent to 8.8 per cent. It is preparing for an assault on the European market having reached a distribution agreement with Three’s parent company CK Hutchison.

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.