Global Smartphone Volume Declines by 6% But Registers Highest Ever Third Quarter Revenue

  • The global smartphone market grew 6% QoQ but declined 6% YoY to 342 million units in Q3 2021.
  • While shipments declined due to component shortages, strong shipments of mid-to high-end smartphones drove the record third-quarter revenue of over $100 billion.
  • Samsung retained the number one spot in Q3 2021 with smartphone shipments of 69 million.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – October 29, 2021

The global smartphone market grew 6% QoQ to reach 342 million units in Q3 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. However, the market declined 6% YoY due to the ongoing global component shortages and slow recovery of key markets such as China and parts of Europe.

Commenting on the overall market dynamics, Research Director Tarun Pathak said, “During the September quarter, we saw supply constraints that were even more severe than those experienced during the June quarter. The global semiconductor shortage finally also took a toll on the end consumers. Due to the demand-supply mismatch, most components used in smartphones have seen upward price movements, forcing some major OEMs to increase the retail prices of some models. This led to declines in shipment volumes, especially in the entry tier segment, which limited the growth potential. As a result, market demand was met by mid- to high-tier smartphones that helped drive the quarter to a record revenue even with the declining shipments. Apple and Samsung refreshing their premium series with iPhone 13 series and Fold series respectively, added to the revenue growth”.

Commenting on the brands’ performance, Research Analyst Aman Chaudhary said, “The top 5 brands could have performed better if not for the component shortages, but they still managed to navigate the crisis through their efficient supply chain management. Samsung shipped 69 million units in Q3 2021, up 20% QoQ driven by the resumption of regular operations at its Vietnam factories and the successful launch of its new foldable series.”


Commenting on the revenue dynamics, Senior Analyst Harmeet Singh Walia noted, “Global smartphone wholesale shipment revenues exceeded $100 billion*, up 12% YoY as the brands circumvented the shortage of chipsets through an aggressive promotional push for mid-priced smartphones instead of lower revenue-generating but high-volume low-end smartphones. Furthermore, the companies also actively pushed 5G-enabled phones due to the better availability of 5G components. This provided an upgrade option to customers, thereby gaining a more robust value share. Apple led the smartphone market revenue, capturing around 37% of the market while Samsung managed to increase its revenue by 32% QoQ driven by the successful launch of its Fold series”.

Market Summary:

Apple shipped 48 million units in Q3 2021, up 15% YoY. This growth was propelled by the launch of the latest iPhone 13 series and stronger than expected performance of the iPhone SE 2020. Apple continued its push in China’s premium segment where Chinese brands such as OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi have not been able to effectively fill the gap left by Huawei’s diminishing position.

Xiaomi shipped 44.4 million units in Q3 2021, down 5% YoY and 15% QoQ as it was severely hit by the ongoing component shortages. As a result, its global market share declined to 12.9% from 16.25% in Q2 2021. In China, Xiaomi’s shipment declined 15% QoQ and the brand lost the third spot to HONOR.

OPPO^ grew 23% YoY to capture 11.1% market share with 38.1 million units. The brand saw an increase in the $400-$599 and $600-$799 price bands, mainly owing to strong shipments of the Reno 6 series, Find X3 and OnePlus 9 series. OPPO consistent performance was due to its aggressive strategies to expand its presence in international markets, particularly LATAM, MEA and Nordic countries. In India, OnePlus grew 55% YoY in Q3 2021 driven by the OnePlus Nord Series. During the quarter, OnePlus also registered its highest ever shipments in India.

vivo grew 9% YoY and 4% QoQ to take 9.8% share for the quarter. vivo continued to lead in China’s market in Q3 2021 with more than 17 million units. This impressive performance by vivo can be attributed to the stable base created by its Y series, and successful recent launches of the S10 and X70 series. The brand also continued to expand its presence in markets such as LATAM and Europe.

Huawei’s shipments further declined 84% YoY to reach 5.8 million units due to a lack of core components. However, to expand its target audience, the brand launched a 4G version of the P50 series in China. Nevertheless, with no change in the US sanctions against Huawei, the brand is expected to continue its decline.

HONOR’s shipments grew 73% QoQ driven by its market comeback in China, where it became the third-largest brand in Q3 2021 riding on the successful launch of the Honor 50 and Honor Play 20. However, its shipments outside China continued to decline.

realme achieved its highest-ever shipment performance with 16 million units in Q3 2021. This was driven by the strong and consistent performance of its 8 series and newly-launched Narzo series. The brand continued to expand its presence in new markets such as LATAM and Europe. The record quarter is coming at a time when component shortages were at their peak.

*Note: Preliminary revenue, based on wholesale pricing.

^Note: OPPO includes OnePlus in Q3 2021

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

Some of our latest regional smartphone market analyses:

India Smartphone Shipments Cross 52 Million Units in Q3 2021 as Brands Prepare for Festive Season

China Smartphone Sales Drop 9% YoY in Q3 2021 on Weak Spending, Component Shortages; HONOR Rises to Third Spot

Online Smartphone Sales in Key SEA Countries at Record High in Aug


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 industry