Global Annual Smartphone Market Grew for the First Time Since 2017; Record Annual Shipments for Apple

  • Global smartphone shipments grew 4% YoY to reach 1.39 billion units in 2021. Q4 2021 shipments declined 6% YoY to reach 371 million units.
  • Samsung led the global smartphone market in 2021 with annual shipments of 271 million units.
  • Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO^ and vivo recorded their highest-ever annual shipments.
  • The top five brands gained share thanks to a significant decline by Huawei, and LG’s exit from the market.
  • Apple surpassed Samsung to become the top smartphone vendor in Q4 2021, shipping 81.5 million units.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – January 28, 2022

The global smartphone market grew for the first time since 2017, with annual shipments reaching 1.39 billion units in 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor service. Despite the 4% annual growth, however, annual shipments remained below the pre-pandemic level due to continued COVID-19 impacts as well as component shortages.

Commenting on the overall market dynamics, Senior Analyst, Harmeet Singh Walia said “the global smartphone recovery in 2021 followed a pandemic-hit 2020 and subsequent pent-up demand in regions like North America, Latin America and India. Growth in the US was driven largely by demand for Apple’s first 5G-enabled iPhone 12 series seeping through to the first quarter of 2021; demand which continued throughout the year ending on a strong Q4 thanks to Black Friday and holiday season promotions. India, too, had a good year due to higher replacement rates, better availability and more attractive financing options in mid-to high-tier phones. However, China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, continued to decline due to supply-side issues caused by the ongoing component shortages, as well as demand-side issues resulting from lengthening replacement cycles.”

Singh Walia added, “the market recovery could have been even better if not for the component shortages that impacted much of the second half of 2021. The major brands navigated the component shortages comparatively better and hence managed to grow by gaining share from long-tail brands.”

  • Samsung shipped 271 million units in 2021, up 6% from 2020, mainly due to increased demand for its mid-tier A and M series smartphones. Samsung’s annual shipments grew despite supply-side issues starting with its Vietnam factory being shut in June due to COVID-induced lockdown. While its shipments grew YoY to reach 67 million in the last quarter, the growth was limited by intensifying competition from Apple and Chinese brands in some of its markets such as India and Latin America. Nevertheless, the brand gained a good mind share with the launch of its third-generation foldable phones that did well in the premium segment.
  • Apple’s global smartphone shipments grew 18% YoY to reach a record 237.9 million units in 2021 due to strong performance by the iPhone 12 series. Apple also grew in key markets such as the US, China, Europe and India. In China, it became the top smartphone brand in Q4 after six years thanks to the iPhone 13, consequently overtaking Samsung as the top smartphone globally in Q4 2021.
  • Xiaomi’s global smartphone shipments grew 31% YoY to reach a record 190 million units in 2021. The bulk of this growth was in the first half of the year, driven by regions such as India, China, South-East Asia and Europe. While its shipments declined in Q3 after a record Q2, it grew marginally in Q4 to ship 45 million smartphones despite slipping to the fifth position in China as it faces severe component shortages.
  • OPPO^ was another of the top smartphone players to achieve record 2021 shipments, growing by 28% YoY to 143.2 million units. Its performance in China remained strong in the first half of the year, while it grew in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and South-East Asia in the second half. However, shipments remained flat at 33.5 million units in the last quarter due to supply-side constraints.
  • vivo grew by 21% YoY to reach annual shipments of 131.3 million units in 2021. vivo leveraged its strong offline penetration and a wide-ranging product portfolio to achieve its highest-ever annual shipments globally. In Q4 2021, however, it declined by 9% YoY, as it lost the number one spot in the Chinese smartphone market to Apple.

Other OEMs also had a notable 2021.

Motorola was the fastest-growing brand among the top 10 smartphone OEMs based on annual global shipments. It took advantage of LG’s exit in the US, where it gained share in the sub-$300 price band by offering a strong lineup of widely available devices. It also continued to perform strongly in Latin America while expanding in overseas markets (including a resurgence in Europe).

realme entered the top five android OEMs globally for the first time as its affordable 5G strategy started to pay off. It also did well in markets such as India where it had a record year. The brand continued to expand its presence in new markets such as LATAM, Europe and the Middle East and Africa.

HONOR managed to finish its first full year as an independent OEM with a ranking among the top ten smartphone OEMs globally, and is already among the top five OEMs in China where it benefitted from the reinstation of its relationship with its suppliers since its separation from Huawei.

Transsion Group continued to perform well in its key markets such as South Asia and the Middle East and Africa. TECNO did well in the entry-tier, while Infinix gained the most in the entry-to mid-tier segment, especially in the countries where it is currently expanding. Going forward, Transsion’s fundamentals are expected to remain solid, as it continues to hold significant clout in its home market of Africa.

Research Director Jan Stryjak concluded, “2021 was a tough year, with component shortages adding further pressure to a market battling with lingering COVID-19 issues. However, the world is slowly getting on top of the pandemic, despite the threat of a resurgence towards the end of last year, and with supply issues hopefully coming to an end towards the middle of this year, there is reason to be optimistic for good growth in 2022 as a whole.”

^Note: OPPO includes OnePlus since Q3 2021

Feel free to reach us at for questions regarding our latest research and insights.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share for World, USChina and India.

Some of our latest regional smartphone market analyses:

India Smartphone Market Crosses 169 Million Units in 2021 to Register Highest Ever Shipments Till Date

Apple Reaches its Highest Ever Market Share in China

Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech

Analyst Contacts:

 Tarun Pathak

  Twitter Logo - PNG and Vector - Logo Download  Linkedin - Free social media icons

Harmeet Singh Walia

 Twitter Logo - PNG and Vector - Logo Download  Linkedin - Free social media icons

Aman Chaudhary

 Linkedin - Free social media icons

Varun Mishra

 Twitter Logo - PNG and Vector - Logo Download  Linkedin - Free social media icons

Karn Chauhan

Twitter Logo - PNG and Vector - Logo Download  Linkedin - Free social media icons

Follow Counterpoint Research
 Twitter Logo - PNG and Vector - Logo Download  Linkedin - Free social media icons

Counterpoint research is a young and fast growing research firm covering analysis of the tech industry. Coverage areas are connected devices, digital consumer goods, software & applications and other adjacent topics. We provide syndicated research reports as well as tailored. Our seminars and workshops for companies and institutions are popular and available on demand. Consulting and customized work on the above topics is provided for high precision projects.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.