Apple’s iPhone reclaims top position in global smartphone sales

Global sales of smartphones totaled 432 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 7% increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. The fourth quarter of 2016 saw Apple leapfrog past Samsung to secure the number one global smartphone vendor position, notes the research group.

In 2016 overall, smartphone sales to end users totaled nearly 1.5 billion units, an increase of 5% from 2015. It’s taken eight quarters for Apple to regain the No. 1 global smartphone vendor ranking, but the positions of it and Samsung have never been so close, with only 256,000 units difference. 

"The last time Apple was in the leading position was in the fourth quarter of 2014, when its sales were driven by its first ever large-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus," says Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "This time it achieved it thanks to strong sales of its flagship phones — the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; it also benefited from the weakened demand for Samsung's smartphones in mature markets such as North America and Western Europe, and in some mature markets in Asia such as Australia and South Korea.”

Samsung's smartphone sales declined 8% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year on year. Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3% of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 7.3 percentage points year on year.