Apple Maintains 5G Market Lead in Q1 2021 Despite Vivo and Samsung Gains

Apple shipped an estimated 40.4 million iPhone 12 devices during the first quarter of 2021, according to new data shared by Strategy Analytics. The figure suggests Apple has maintained its grip on the global 5G smartphone market, despite indicating a 23% dip compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, when Apple shipped 52.2 million units.

iPhone 12 Most Popular Feature
Apple enjoyed booming sales in the 5G market in the three months following the launch of in first 5G-equipped iPhone models, but since then its rivals have upped their game in an increasingly competitive premium smartphone market by releasing new 5G models.

Chinese vendor Oppo took second place in the same quarter, shipping 21.5 million units for a 15.8% market share, up 55% from the fourth quarter of last year. Fellow Sino-mobile maker Vivo managed to ship 19.4 million units, a 62% gain on the last quarter.

Samsung took fourth place with 17 million 5G handsets shipped, earning it just 12.5% of the market but a sizeable 79% growth on Q4 2020. Xiaomi shipped 16.6 million units during the quarter, taking 12.2% of the market, up 41% quarter-over-quarter.

q1 2021 5g market strategy analytics

“Samsung is performing well with new 5G models, such as Galaxy S21 5G, S21 ultra 5G and S21+ 5G, in South Korea, North America, and parts of Europe,” said Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, associate director at Strategy Analytics. “Meanwhile, Apple dipped 23% QoQ, following a blowout Q4 2020 where the new 5G iPhone was wildly popular as a gift during the holiday season.

“We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments to reach a record 624 million units for the full-year 2021, soaring from 269 million in full-year 2020.”

All of the iPhones in Apple’s ‌iPhone 12‌ lineup support 5G, but not all 5G networks are equal. There’s the super fast mmWave (millimeter wave) 5G and the slower but more widespread sub-6GHz 5G.

Apple currently only sells the mmWave ‌iPhone 12‌ in the United States, which allocates to only 30-35% of overall ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ shipments. However, support for sub-6Ghz 5G networks appears to have been enough to fuel the demand for ‌iPhone 12‌ models more globally.

Apple is planning to increase the availability of 5G mmWave capable ‌iPhone‌ models to more countries around the world with the release of the iPhone 13 later this year, offering even more customers access to the faster and newer technology where the infrastructure is increasingly becoming more widely available, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

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