Samsung takes the top spot from Apple, but a declining market spoils its win

A Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with wallpaper from Backdrops resting on the number pad of a Galaxy Book 3 Ultra
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The global smartphone market fell by 12% compared to the same quarter last year.
  • Samsung has regained its top spot as the smartphone vendor that shipped the most smartphones.
  • Apple and Xiaomi follow in the second and third places, respectively.

It's no secret that the smartphone industry hasn't been in the best shape lately. The market has suffered from a decline in shipments over the past year, and the latest figures reveal that 2023 didn't start on an overall positive note. Although, there is some good news for Samsung.

According to a preliminary report from Canalys, Samsung took the top spot for smartphone shipments in Q1 2023, a title Apple held during Q4 2022. Samsung accounted for 22% of shipments, with Cupertino closely behind at 21% and Xiaomi trailing at 11%. 

Global smartphone shipments in Q1 2022 and Q1 2023

(Image credit: Canalys)

However, despite Samsung's fairly triumphant quarter, smartphone shipments overall declined by 12% compared to the same quarter in 2022, highlighting the struggles companies are still facing amid lower demand.

Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia attributes lower inventory levels to "sluggish end-user demand," which affects all levels of the supply chain.

"The local macroeconomic conditions continued to hinder vendors' investments and operations in several markets," says Chaurasia. "Despite price cuts and heavy promotions from vendors, consumer demand remained sluggish, particularly in the low-end segment due to high inflation affecting consumer confidence and spending."

Global smartphone shipments from Q1 2020 to Q1 2023

(Image credit: Canalys)

However, things may be looking up, as noted by Canalys analyst Toby Zhu, who notes improved demand for "certain smartphone products and price bands," among other variables.

"Canalys predicts that the inventory of the smartphone industry, irrespective of channel or vendor, can reach a relatively healthy level by the end of the second quarter of 2023," remarks Zhu, who notes that it's still too early to predict whether consumer demand will recover.

The report comes shortly after Samsung signaled a weak profit guidance for its most recent quarter due to declining semiconductor demand. However, the company's lifeline remains its smartphone business thanks to the popularity of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Canalys also notes that despite the struggling market, Samsung is the only top vendor to achieve quarterly growth.

Samsung is expected to announce its full Q1 2023 financial earnings on April 27.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.

  • Laura Knotek
    That's not surprising given how devices have matured so it isn't necessary to update every year, plus economic downturns always limit discretionary spending.