Global smartphone market tumbles 6.7% in Q3, chip shortage to blame

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Worldwide smartphone shipments declined 6.7% YoY in Q3 2021.
  • Smartphone vendors shipped 331.2 million units during the July to September period.
  • Samsung was the top smartphone vendor during the quarter, with a 20.8% share of the global market.

The global smartphone market declined 6.7% YoY in the third quarter of the year, according to the latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker from IDC. A total of 331.2 million smartphones were shipped during the quarter.

The decline in shipments was mainly due to the chip shortage that has been affecting many industries for months. While smartphone makers have also been dealing with shortages for the last few quarters, they weren't severe enough to limit the rate of growth until now. Several leading smartphone vendors were also affected by power supply constraints in China and other manufacturing challenges.

The severity of the impact, however, varied between regions. In Central Eastern Europe, shipments declined 23.2%, while the U.S. suffered a decline of just 0.2%.

Nabila Popal, research director with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, said in a statement:

The supply chain and component shortage issues have finally caught up to the smartphone market, which until now seemed almost immune to this issue despite its adverse impact on many other adjacent industries.

Samsung, which makes some of the best Android phones, held on to its top position with a 20.8% market share. It shipped a total of 69 million phones during the quarter, down 14.2% over the same period last year. Apple was the second largest smartphone vendor in the July to September period and the only one among the top three to witness an increase in shipments over last year. Apple shipped 50.4 iPhones last quarter, up 20.8% over Q3 2020.

Xiaomi, which was the second largest smartphone brand globally in Q2 2021, slipped to the third position in Q3 2021. The Chinese smartphone maker shipped 44.3 million units and held 13.4% of the global market. BBK-owned Vivo and OPPO were tied for fourth place.

Babu Mohan
News Writer
  • Well, it also doesn't help that there's nothing out there that's all that exciting to buy. We've stayed on our S10 devices because nothing new is all that new. Nobody has done anything truly remarkable for a while now.
  • Lol. I have my Note 9 still, and it still performs admirably, even though it's SIM-less and I use it mostly as a PMP at the training facility. I'm Driving an iPhone 11 Pro on the daily, and yea... I agree there is not much reason to upgrade. These phones perform so well, now, that the biggest reason to upgrade (performance rot) has been eliminated. All the chip shortage did was made it easy for me to avoid any impulses or doubt myself... because you can't get one for weeks after order, anyways. Same with GPUs. Without the shortage, I probably would have gotten a 6700 XT or 3070, but I've upgraded my display (144 to 240Hz) instead, and I can run OW and other esports games at high settings at that resolution with my 5700 XT. The pandemic has probably saved me $3,000+ in unnecessary tech purchases, while allowing me to make upgrades in places that are more impactful to my daily use of what I do own.