iPhones now have 17.5% of the global smartphone market

Global smartphone shipments for 2015 grew 10.3% year on year to 1.293 billionChinese vendors together shipped 539 million units in 2015, while Samsung and Apple together shipped a total of 547 million units, according to the latest reporting from the global market research firm TrendForce.

Apple retained its position as the No. 2 global vendor in 2015 with 227 million iPhones shipped, translating to an annual growth of 17.7% and a 17.5% worldwide market share. Strong sales of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were a major factor behind the sustained expansion in shipments, according to TrendForce. The 5.5-inch model of iPhone 6 Plus in particular filled the gap for large-screen smartphone in Apple’s product lineup. 

The successor model, iPhone 6s, was released in September last year and featured upgraded processor (Apple A9) and 3D Touch technology. However, it hasn’t “generated much replacement demand as expected because its outward appearance is just too similar to the preceding iPhone 6,” claims TrendForce. Projections for iPhone 6s shipments over 2016 are already seeing downward revisions, and TrendForce anticipates Apple’s shipment growth for this year to be in the single digit. (Apple World Today’s pundit — that’s me — disagrees and expects double digit growth.)

Samsung had a tough 2015, according to TrendForce. Besides missing its annual shipment targets for Galaxy S6 and Note 5, the top global vendor also saw its global market share fell to 25%, down from 28% in 2014. As Samsung continues to cede grounds to Apple in the high-end market, it has retreated in face of Chinese competition in the mid-range and low-end segments, as well, says TrendForce. The vendor’s market share projections were revised downward repeatedly throughout the year. According to TrendForce’s data, Samsung smartphone shipments for 2015 totaled 320 million units. This figure represented an annual decline of 1.8%, a historic first for the South Korean vendor.

“Collectively, Chinese vendors were in a close match against the top two global brands. In 2016, TrendForce expects Chinese vendors to take around 45% of the global market share, with their shipments exceeding the combined shipments of Samsung and Apple,” says TrendForce smartphone analyst Avril Wu. “This means that nearly one out of two smartphones sold by the top ten vendors this year will come from a Chinese brand. In sum, major international vendors are now facing a tougher market situation.”