The battle for second rages on.

While Samsung held the top smartphone spot all four quarters last year, Huawei overtook Apple in Q2 2018 smartphone shipments, marking the first time in seven years that Samsung and Apple were not the top two smartphone makers. Huawei maintained second place in Q3 2018, but Apple regained its silver spot in Q4 2018. Today we learned that the Chinese company beat its U.S counterpart again, in Q1 2019.

Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 310.8 million smartphones worldwide in Q1 2019, down 6.6% from the 332.7 million units in Q1 2018. Of the top five, only Huawei and Vivo shipped more units than the year before. The Q1 2019 figures come from IDC (though Strategy Analytics agrees that Huawei passed Apple again), which summarized its findings in the following chart:

Samsung, Huawei, and Apple

As you can see above, Samsung lost 0.4 points (from 23.5% to 23.1%) as it shipped 6.3 million fewer smartphones (71.9 million). Samsung typically owns about a fifth of the market, and that remains unchanged. It looks like the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ did well during the quarter, but Samsung is losing at the mid-range and low end of the market. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is not going to be able to help much there.

Huawei gained a whopping 7.2 points, hitting 19.0% market share. That’s the biggest lead it has held above Apple, and also the closest it has come to unseating Samsung — it’s now closer to its Korean competitor than its American counterpart. The Chinese company is successfully dismantling the smartphone duopoly. And that’s even before the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro have a full quarter of shipments to show off. Huawei’s high-end devices continue to find strong demand, as do its Honor models sold via online channels. In China especially, Huawei has a well-rounded portfolio targeting all segments.

Apple’s share, meanwhile, fell 4.0 points (from 15.7% to 11.7%), as the company shifts its focus to services. Competitors continue to eat away at Apple’s market share, and given that the company doesn’t have a 5G strategy, that’s unlikely to change this year. Apple’s settlement with Qualcomm could, however, turn its smartphone strategy around for 2020.

Chinese domination

Xiaomi slipped 0.4 points (to 8.0%), Vivo grew 1.9 points (to 7.5%), and Oppo stayed flat (at 7.4%). These three are battling it out for fourth even more closely than the top three are fighting for the top spot. Companies outside of the “top five” together lost 4.4 points.

Consumers are no longer as obsessed with upgrading to the latest and greatest smartphone. But when they do, or when first-time buyers join, they’re increasingly considering a Chinese company over the usual Samsung or Apple options.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Huawei is laser-focused on growing its stature in the world of mobile devices, with smartphones being its lead horse,” IDC program vice president Ryan Reith said in a statement. “The overall smartphone market continues to be challenged in almost all areas, yet Huawei was able to grow shipments by 50%, not only signifying a clear number two in terms of market share but also closing the gap on the market leader Samsung. This new ranking of Samsung, Huawei, and Apple is very likely what we’ll see when 2019 is all said and done.”

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