New research shows that 5G smartphone shipments in Q1 2021 rose 458% year-on-year as demand for 5G-capable handsets soars

New research from Strategy Analytics suggests that 2021 could well be the year that 5G adoption truly takes hold across various markets, with China leading the charge. 

Q1 2021 has seen the demand for 5G-capable smartphones boom, seeing 133.9 million devices shipped around the world. Between 

“Global 5G smartphone shipments soared 458% YoY from 24.0 million units in Q1 2020 to a record 133.9 million in Q1 2021. Huge demand in China, a strong push from Apple iPhone, and a wave of value priced Android models fueled a record quarter for 5G smartphone shipments,” explained Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, associate director at Strategy

The company estimates that Apple sold a record 40.3 million 5G iPhones this quarter, representing a 30.2% market share. 

Oppo is the next biggest winner, shipping 21.5 million 5G devices this quarter, up from just 1.7 million last year, an increase of 1,165%, giving them a market share of 16.1%. Xiaomi and Vivo also benefited significantly from the increased 5G device demand in China, increasing their global market shares to 14.5% and 12.4%, respectively.

Samsung, hailed by some as recently regaining its top position in the global smartphone market in this same quarter, finds itself in fourth place in Strategy Analytics report, with a market share of 12.7%.

Notably absent from Strategy Analytics list is Huawei, whose smartphone business was hit badly by the sanctions imposed upon it by the US. It is the resulting vacuum that has provided such a major opportunity for the vendor’s domestic rivals at the start of this year.

Huawei’s quarterly revenue dropped 16.5% in Q1 of this year, with the company sorely missing from its budget smartphone brand Honor, which it sold last year.

Over the last year, it has become clear that the 5G smartphone market has become highly competitive and is in state of constant flux. As 5G rollouts continue around the world and adoption increases, particularly as the pandemic begins to be overcome, the smartphone hierarchy could well be rewritten once again. 


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