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The iPhone 12 has made Apple the leader in 5G, far ahead of Samsung

Thanks to the extremely strong sales of iPhone 12, Apple has largely taken the lead market share on 5G smartphones. Samsung, which was a pioneer with its flagship, is far behind, in 4th place, behind Oppo and Vivo. The South Korean manufacturer is nevertheless one of the fastest growing in recent quarters.

The successful sales of iPhone 12 are confirmed in the latest report of the firm Strategy Analytics. Apple sold 52.2 million 5G smartphones in the last months of 2020 – an absolute record in the holiday season, which was very good for purchases – which still represented 40.7% of the global market share. Since then, iPhone 12 sales continue to perform well, even though once the holiday season is over, the sales level has fallen from some 23% to 29.8% market share.

Indeed, we remain on a volume of 40.4 million aircraft, which is nearly double what Oppo, number 2 in the ranking, managed to sell with 21.5 million units sold in the first quarter of 2021 (15.8% market share). The sales of Oppo are followed by those of Vivo, always only one or two points behind the first. Finally, Samsung is only in 4th place, with 17 million smartphones sold and a market share of 12.5% in the 1st quarter 2021.


Xiaomi closes in a handkerchief the top 5 biggest sellers of 5G smartphones with a market share very close to 12.2% in Q1 2021. Samsung managed to turn the corner after falling behind Xiaomi in the last quarter of 2020. When we look at the growth of the various manufacturers between the last quarter 2020 and the first quarter 2021, one thing strikes immediately.

Apple’s competitors did not fall asleep, and instead experienced impressive sales gains from one quarter to the next. This is especially true for Samsung which shows a 79% increase thanks to the good sales of Galaxy S21.

Strategy analytics explains:

“Samsung is doing well with the new 5G models, such as the Galaxy S21 5G, S21 Ultra 5G and S21+ 5G in South Korea, North America and parts of Europe. At the same time, Apple plunged 23% quarter-on-quarter, following the Q4 2020 sales boom when the new iPhone 5G enjoyed unparalleled popularity as a gift during the holiday season.”

Now, how to explain such a situation when Samsung was precursor on the 5G from the Galaxy S20, with a product more than a year before Apple’s iPhone 12? The answer is probably the size of a market that seems to be doubling in volume. Strategy Analytics continues: “We predict that 5G smartphone shipments worldwide will reach a record 624 million units for the whole of 2021 compared to 269 million for the whole of 2020”.


However, if we ignore the decline following the holiday season, everything seems to indicate that iPhone 5G sales have not yet reached their full potential. Indeed, Apple does not sell quite the same iPhone 12 everywhere. The United States is one of the few countries where Apple offers iPhone 12 compatible with the 5G mmWave. These smartphones represent between 30 and 35% of total iPhone 12 sales.

Everything seems to indicate that Apple will take advantage of the iPhone 13 to offer mmWave connectivity in more countries. This could de facto convince operators, we hope, to go faster on their deployment of the fastest 5G network. In France, however, it seems that we still need to be patient: most operators are lagging behind the deployment of the core of the 5G network and no date has yet been announced for the mmWave network.

Still, there is reason to be amazed by Apple’s ability to commit this kind of exploits quite regularly: to become in a few months the leader of a market in which the brand was however absent. What do you think about these figures? Do you think the popularity of the iPhone 12 is limited? Share your opinion in the comments of this article!

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