Xiaomi leapfrogs Apple to become the world's second biggest smartphone vendor

Mi headquarters
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Chinese giant Xiaomi is now the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer after Samsung after it leapfrogged Apple during the second quarter of 2021, new figures have said.

According to research by Omdia, the overall market grew by 6.9% to 299.1 million units during Q2 2021, contributing to a 17.4% rise in shipments to 651.8 million for the first half of the year as the market continued its recovery from the pandemic.

Samsung’s shipments increased 5.6% to 57.3 million for the quarter – a modest amount of growth that was attributed to an ongoing chip shortage affecting the industry and due to reduced production at key facilities in Vietnam and India where the delta variant of Covid is spreading.

Global smartphone sales

Xiaomi’s unit sales rose by a huge 72.9% to 49.9 million and was one of several Chinese vendors to benefit from the market recovery and the struggles of Huawei which had once challenged Samsung for top spot.

Oppo’s sales rose by 44.7% to 32.5 million, while Vivo’s numbers increased by a third to 31.6 million – enough to secure fourth and fifth spot respectively. Even greater growth was seen at Realme, which increase volumes by a huge 174.5% to 11.4 million during the quarter – enough for sixth position ahead of Motorola.

Meanwhile Apple cemented third spot with a 7.5% increase to 42.9 million units, driven by a recovery in developed markets and increased demand for premium handsets.

However, analysts say Huawei’s time as a “key smartphone influencer” has come to an end following a 74.6% fall in shipments to 9.8 million. Its fortunes have faded due to a combination of US sanctions that have limited its access to key technologies, and through the related sale of its Honor subsidiary.

Overall, the figures are good news for the industry, however analysts have warned that ongoing challenges in the market – especially a shortage of components – could mean less positive Q3.

“Despite the spread of the Corona Delta variant and the component shortages, smartphone shipments grew year-on-year in the second quarter,” declared Jusy Hong, senior research manager for consumer devices at Omdia.  “However, Q3 shipments are expected to turn to negative growth compared to the previous year due to continued supply shortage and reduced demand.”

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.