Xiaomi's smartphone sales overtake Apple's as Huawei plummets

The Original Huawei P30 at its 2019 launch
The Original Huawei P30 at its 2019 launch (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Gartner's Q3 2020 results show a moderate improvement in global smartphone sales.
  • Samsung and Xiaomi show growth despite the ongoing pandemic. The latter has surpassed Apple to be the number 3 smartphone maker.
  • Huawei keeps its number 2 spot, but its sales continue to plummet as it remains unable to sell phones with GMS.

Gartner today shared its report on the smartphone market in Q3 2020, and a lot of it backs up what IDC shared a month ago. The COVID-19 pandemic put a dampener on things in the earlier half of the year as lockdowns affected retail and manufacturing, but as countries began to open up, the market sore a small rebound.

The big winner was Samsung, selling up to 80.6 million units with a 2.2 percent increase YoY, Huawei came up as number 2 — albeit down by 21.3 percent from this period last year. Confirming IDC's earlier report, Gartner now marks Xiaomi as the number 3 smartphone manufacturer, surpassing Apple. The OEM sells from the Mi, Redmi, and Poco sub-brands globally, and continues to release phones in all price brackets for low-prices.

To be clear, Huawei's extreme decline has little to do with the pandemic. The outgoing Trump administration banned Huawei from trading with companies like Google, crippling its smartphone business by shutting off access to Google Play. Huawei has so far coasted by the skin of its teeth as it released revised versions of its older phones like two new versions of the Huawei P30 Pro. A Gartner analyst, speaking to the Register, noted that tactic had a time limit:

According to Gartner's senior director analyst Anshul Gupta, things can get much worse. "Next year, I think its volumes will be nearly one-fifth of its usual yearly business," he said.One factor in this forthcoming decline, Gupta said, is that the only devices Huawei can currently sell with GMS pre-installed are older models released before it found itself on a US entity list. Huawei has, for example, released a modestly updated version of the venerable P30 Pro flagship from last year. This isn't a long-term solution, however, particularly for a company that prides itself on innovation, and Gartner can't imagine it working much beyond the fourth quarter of this year.

Globally, smartphone sales in Q3 exhibited moderate growth. Gartner attributed this to "pent-up demand" from countries who were coming out from lockdowns.

Michael Allison