Xiaomi overtakes Apple to become the second-largest smartphone brand

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

It looks like Xiaomi is having a great 2021. In addition to making the best Android phones in the form of the Mi 11 Ultra and Mi 11, Xiaomi sold tens of millions of budget phones in the Redmi series, allowing it to nudge past Apple to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

The latest data from Canalys reveals Xiaomi now has a 17% global market share, bested only by Samsung at 19%. The firm notes that Xiaomi saw a massive 83% year-on-year growth, with Samsung touting a 15% increase and Apple at just 1%. OPPO and Vivo, meanwhile, are at a joint fourth with a 10% market share.

Xiaomi's momentum comes from a strong focus on the budget segment — the Redmi Note 10 Pro is the budget phone to beat in 2021 — combined with a foray into new markets. According to Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton, most of Xiaomi's growth over the last year was from international markets:

Xiaomi is growing its overseas business rapidly. For example, its shipments increased more than 300% in Latin America, 150% Africa and 50% in Western Europe.It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent, with initiatives such as channel partner consolidation and more careful management of older stock in the open market. It is still largely skewed toward the mass market, however, and compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40% and 75% less.

An overwhelming majority of Xiaomi's sales come from mass-market devices in the Redmi and Redmi Note series, but the brand is increasingly turning out flagships that can take on the best that Samsung and others have to offer. The Mi 11 Ultra in particular is a standout phone that outshines just about every other Android phone when it comes to camera prowess. But with plenty of manufacturer vying in this category, Stanton notes that Xiaomi has its work cut out:

So a major priority for Xiaomi this year is to grow sales of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra. But it will be a tough battle, with OPPO and Vivo sharing the same objective, and both willing to spend big on above-the-line marketing to build their brands in a way that Xiaomi is not.

With second position now solidified, Stanton says Xiaomi is now aiming straight for the summit:

All vendors are fighting hard to secure component supply amid global shortages, but Xiaomi already has its sights set on the next prize: displacing Samsung to become the world's largest vendor

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

6 Comments
  • USA gov will sort this out like they did with Huawei - so don't be so happy
  • All without selling a single phone in the US. I wish they would have come to the US like they said they would but things happen and they are successful as they are without being in the US is huge.
  • Of course. The only growth markets for phones are in China and India and South America.
    iPhones are way too expensive in those locations so companies like Xiaomi and others are eating Apple's lunch with low-cost, quality phones.
    Apple will NEVER relinquish their "Boutique Brand" image and resulting high costs (and profits) so they are more and more relying on the US and EU for sales growth. Their current lobbying efforts reflect that as they are working hard to keep the Chinese manufacturers OUT of the US market (too late in the EU) by pushing "national security" and other stalking-horses in their lobbying of US politicians. Their campaign-cash donations reflect this.
    The latest version of the "low-cost" iPhone was a flop internationally, and they can't drop their profit-margins or their stock will get hammered. Their "walled-garden" App Store is under assault in the EU so their massive profits from it are in danger of shrinking too.
    There is no innovation coming out of Cupertino either. Just over-priced "Me-Too" products where they announce they have "invented" things that have been in other products for years.
    But, "image" sells, especially in the USA. Not so much everywhere else.
  • I agree with your assessment of Apple and their brand "image" but Apple isn't very popular in EU countries but they are in the UK though.
  • Got to give it too em. My redmi note 10 pro is possibly one of the best phones for the price range I've ever had. Add the fact that most of the bloat wear can now be un-installed (UK version)on the phone, makes it a great alternative to more expensive named brands. I was a BB fan boy but with no real viable alternative to classic BB I had to make the transition to proper Android. This note 10 has most sub £250 phones on the ropes. By the way the gradient bronze os a great colour too.
  • I won't buy Xiaomi because of their software being too Apple esque and of course software and security updates matter to me and them being delivered in a timely manner along with being a Google and Pixel fanboy and love the Pixel software and launcher which is my favourite Android UI. But Xiaomi's hardware can't be faulted though.