Huawei overtakes Samsung for smartphone shipments during Q2 2020

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For a number of years now, Huawei has made its intentions well-known that it wants to be the top smartphone vendor in the world.

In recent years it has pipped Apple to the number two spot and the latest quarterly report from research firm Canalys says Huawei has overtaken Samsung as the top smartphone vendor during Q2 2020.

While that is an impressive milestone for Huawei given the circumstances surrounding the company and its ongoing issues with the United States, as Canalys’ report shows, the switch in positions is a little more complicated than it may seem.

This as both companies suffered rather heavily, as has been the case across a myriad industries, as a result of COVID-19. The reason why Huawei was able to overtake its South Korean rival, is down to the fact that it was better equipped with handling the impact of COVID-19 on its manufacturing and supply chains.

Consequently Huawei was able to ship 55.8 million smartphones in Q2 and Samsung was able to ship 53.7 million devices during the same period, according to Canalys. The interesting aspect is that Huawei’s shipments slid only 5 percent, compared to the massive 30 percent fall suffered by Samsung.

“If it wasn’t for COVID-19, it wouldn’t have happened. Huawei has taken full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business. Samsung has a very small presence in China, with less than 1% market share, and has seen its core markets, such as Brazil, India, the United States and Europe, ravaged by outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns,” explains Canalys senior analyst, Ben Stanton.

It stands to reason then, that once Samsung is able to get its supply chains back up to full speed, it should once again claim the top spot.

With a number of new devices expected to unveiled next week, that return to number one could happen as early as the Canalys Q3 report.

Whether Huawei can keep its first place among smartphone vendors remains to be seen, especially as many of the hurdles that existed pre-COVID still exist.

“Taking first place is very important for Huawei,” notes said Canalys analyst, Mo Jia.

“It is desperate to showcase its brand strength to domestic consumers, component suppliers and developers. It needs to convince them to invest, and will broadcast the message of its success far and wide in the coming months,” Jia adds.

“But it will be hard for Huawei to maintain its lead in the long term. Its major channel partners in key regions, such as Europe, are increasingly wary of ranging Huawei devices, taking on fewer models, and bringing in new brands to reduce risk. Strength in China alone will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover,” the analyst concludes.

As such the coming quarters will prove pivotal to Huawei’s smartphone ambitions.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.