Huawei takes over as the world’s largest smartphone maker - albeit briefly

(Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei has been in the news for the last couple of years, mostly for its ongoing battle with the Trump administration which choked supplies of critical hardware and software. However, amidst all this brouhaha, the company became the world's largest smartphone maker, overtaking Samsung during April. 

GizmoChina has reported that Huawei accounted for 19% of global smartphone shipments while Samsung’s numbers dipped to 17% at the same time in April this year, giving Huawei the pole position for a brief time and this has been confirmed to GizmoChina by Counterpoint’s VP of Research Neil Shah.

While the US administration was busy flexing its muscle and forcing its allies, including India, to boycott Huawei from the all-important 5G deals for alleged espionage and data theft.

The Chinese company, on the other hand, has fought multiple battles to stay afloat. Not only has it found ways to keep selling its products, it has won critical 5G contract in the UK and while it has been barred to source critical components from the US linked companies, Huawei has not only been busy finding alternate solutions but was even able to topple bigwigs Samsung and Apple to become world’s leading smartphone brand in 2020, albeit briefly.

World's leading smartphone brand?

In spite of the global lockdown due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic, Huawei edged past Samsung in the number of smartphones shipped during April 2020. 

Factors that have helped Huawei rake a huge number in the Chinese domestic market includes a strong nationalist sentiment that resulted in Chinese users and companies’ preference for Huawei over any international smartphone brands. This retaliatory stance was in response to the American government’s decision of banning Huawei in the US.

Similarly, coronavirus-led lockdowns across various countries like the US, India, Latin America and Europe resulted in weaker sales numbers for Samsung. Some of these countries, including India, reported zero smartphone sales during the 75-day odd lockdown period and while factories and businesses sprung back to life in China as early as March giving Huawei a rare and brief window to overtake Samsung’s numbers.

While Huawei's moment of glory was short-lived, the company is under tremendous stress due to the declining numbers in overseas markets. Even though Huawei is rumoured to be in talks with multiple companies including Samsung to get chipsets for its smartphones manufactured, this move will only help the company stay afloat in China, it’s the sales outside China that is crippled due to the lack of Google Mobile Services (GMS) on its phones.

With the global markets resuming normalcy, Samsung’s numbers are also bound to go up again while Huawei’s digits may not change substantially.

Jitendra Soni

Jitendra has been working in the Internet Industry for the last 7 years now and has written about a wide range of topics including gadgets, smartphones, reviews, games, software, apps, deep tech, AI, and consumer electronics.