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Samsung tops the smartphone market in 2021 with 272 million shipments

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Open Snow
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Open Snow (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Smartphone companies shipped 1.35 billion units in 2021, a slight increase from the previous year.
  • Samsung led the smartphone market last year with a 20.1% market share, followed by Apple and Xiaomi.
  • However, worldwide smartphone shipments declined by 3.2% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Samsung shipped the most number of smartphones worldwide in 2021 with 272 million units sold that year, according to a new report from the International Data Corporation.

The South Korean tech giant grabbed the top spot in the global smartphone market last year with a 20.1% market share, beating out Apple, which had a market share of 17.4% after shipping 235.7 million phones during the year. Xiaomi came in third with 191 million shipments, followed by OPPO with 133.5 million and Vivo with 128.3 million.

Overall, global smartphone shipments reached 1.35 billion in 2021, a 5.7% growth compared to the previous year. The IDC report, on the other hand, highlights both good and bad news about global smartphone shipment. Despite a positive annual growth rate in 2021, fewer phones were shipped in the fourth quarter of last year than in the same period the previous year due to component shortages. IDC says smartphone vendors shipped a total of 362.4 million phones during that period, which was down 3.2% year over year.

"As we mentioned last quarter, the supply chain and component shortages started to have meaningful impact on the smartphone market as we entered the second half of the year, and this continues to be the case as we've now entered 2022," said Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

IDC noted that the Q4 decline in smartphone shipments marked "the second straight quarter of negative growth." The market research firm reported last year that the global smartphone market declined 6.7% year over year in the third quarter of 2021.

That said, annual shipments managed to grow, owing to a strong first half. Reith added that IDC has seen increased consumer interest in the best 5G phones and new form factors such as foldable phones.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

2 Comments
  • I am sure the A series and below represent a lot of those sales. My 3yro phone died this weekend and I picked up an A12 as a cheap short term replacement while waiting for the Pixel6A and the rest of the new phones. I won't say the A12 rocks but it is surprisingly capable for a $180 phone that will get android 12 and security updates for another two years or so.
  • I am sure they knocked it out of the park with the foldables. The proof is in how they delayed launched of both A models and the S21FE.