For the first time ever, Huawei has shipped more smartphones worldwide than a quarter of any other company, according to a new report from analyst firm Canalys. Huawei has long had ambitions to beat Samsung as the world’s largest smartphone retailer, and going by the numbers from Canalys, that’s what happened during the April-June period of this year.
This does not mean that Huawei will keep the top spot for a long time, as the results were clearly influenced by the ongoing pandemic. Canalys ’figure of 55.8 million Huawei smartphones shipped is actually down 5 percent year-over-year, while Samsung slid 30 percent to 53.7 million. More than 70 percent of Huawei devices are now being sold in China, of which COVID-19 has not hit as much as Samsung’s major markets. Samsung, meanwhile, is a tiny player in China.
“Our business has shown exceptional resilience in these difficult times,” Huawei said in a statement The Verge. “In a period of unprecedented downturns and global economic challenges, we have continued to grow and continue to strengthen our leadership position by providing innovative products and experience to consumers.”
“This is a remarkable result that few people had predicted a year ago,” says senior Canalys analyst Ben Stanton. “If it wasn’t for COVID-19, it wouldn’t have happened. Huawei has taken full advantage of China’s economic recovery to restart its smartphone business.”
Despite impressive hardware, Huawei phones are now selling hard for most consumers outside of China because they are blocked from using Google’s services. It’s hard to see the company stay in the No. 1 spot once global smartphone demand recovers; Samsung just said it expects better sales in the next three months due to the phone’s major launches. But Huawei’s continued strength in China shows that external pressures still do not pose an existential threat to its consumer businesses – at least not at home.