2021 may have been another turbulent year as major economies around the world negotiated a stop-start recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was at least some solace for smartphone manufacturers, which saw their sales bounce back in the first half of the year.
Research firm Gartner said that there had been a 6% increase in smartphone sales across the globe over the course of the year compared to 2020, for which a 12.5% decline had been recorded.
The second half of 2021, however, showed how far the smartphone market has to go in its efforts to achieve sustained recovery, with a lack of components and supply chain issues exerting a buffeting effect on device sales in the last few months of the year.
For Apple, the final quarter of the year was actually a strong one in many respects, as demand for 5G helped it to lead the growing international smartphone market at the end of 2021. Apple racked up growth of 3.8% during the last few months of the year, compared to the equivalent period in 2020.
The Cupertino firm was followed in that quarter by Samsung, which reportedly managed 11% growth over those three months, again compared to its figure for the same period the previous year. Across 2021 as a whole, Samsung ranked above Apple for smartphone sales, selling around 272 million of them, whereas Apple sold about 239 million iPhones.
Gartner senior research director, Anshul Gupta, commented: “An improved consumer outlook, pent-up demand from 2020 in large markets, such as India and China, helped drive sales in the first half of the year.
“However, this trend reversed in the second half of the year, even with high demand from consumers. Out-of-stock situations for popular models and limited inventories pushed out some of the possible sales to 2022.”