Samsung and Apple duked it out for the top spot in 2022 amid a shrinking market

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Apple iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The latest report shows smartphone shipments fell by 17% in 2022.
  • Apple managed to gain the top spot in Q2 2022, no doubt thanks to the iPhone 14 series.
  • Samsung shipped the most smartphones overall throughout 2022.

Now that we're in 2023, we're starting to understand how 2022 fared for smartphone vendors as they navigate through tough economic times. A preliminary market report from Canalys shows that OEMs struggled to get phones in consumers' hands as Samsung and Apple fought for the top spot.

According to the report, smartphone shipments dropped 11% throughout the year, and while Q4 saw it pick up slightly, the quarter still saw a whopping 17% drop in shipments compared to Q4 2021.

"Smartphone vendors have struggled in a difficult macroeconomic environment throughout 2022. Q4 marks the worst annual and Q4 performance in a decade," notes Canalys Research Analyst Runar Bjørhovde. They state this was due to weaker demand for high-end smartphones and an overall reluctance to bring in new inventory.

Smartphone shipments from 2020 to 2022

(Image credit: Canalys)

Despite the weaker demand for flagships, Apple was able to reclaim its spot at the top of the smartphone market, representing 25% of smartphone shipments. According to Canalys, that's its highest quarterly share, beating out Samsung in Q4, which had just 20% of the market. This is no doubt thanks to its latest flagship phones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max that launched in September, taking on Samsung's best foldable phones.

Still, Samsung managed to beat Apple throughout the year with a 22% share in 2022 versus Apple's 19%. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo were also in the top five smartphone vendors in Q4 and throughout 2022.

Canalys doesn't expect things to get much better in 2023, suggesting that OEMs will have to make tough decisions to adjust to the market. "Vendors will approach 2023 cautiously, prioritizing profitability and protecting market share," says Canalys Research Analyst Le Xuan Chiew. "Vendors are cutting costs to adapt to the new market reality."

Samsung is gearing up to launch its latest flagship series on February 1. The Galaxy S23 series is expected to boast faster processors, improved cameras, and bigger batteries, along with a more consistent design across each model. However, it remains to be seen if they'll be enticing enough to give Samsung the boost it needs.

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Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.