The winds of change have swept through the smartphone market, with Apple soaring to the top spot in 2023, dethroning long-time champion Samsung.
This historic shift, revealed in data compiled by the International Data Corporation (IDC), is a testament to Apple's resilience and strategic maneuvering in a challenging year.
“While we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players like Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, the biggest winner is Apple,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC's Worldwide Tracker team.
Despite the global smartphone market facing a 3.2% decline in shipments compared to 2022, which hit a decade-low of 1.17 billion units, the second half of the year witnessed a crucial turning point.
The fourth quarter of 2023 surpassed the year-over-year growth forecast of 7.3% and recorded an 8.5% growth.
“Not only is Apple the only player in the Top 3 to show positive growth annually, but also bags the number one spot annually for the first time,” Popal added.
The tech giant achieved an all-time high market share of 20.1%, with Samsung close behind at 19.4% and Xiaomi coming in third at 12.5%.
Premiumization Is a Rising Trend
It was Apple's unwavering dominance in the premium segment that truly propelled it to the top.
The continued popularity of its flagship iPhone 14 series, particularly the Pro models, which cater to discerning users seeking cutting-edge technology and premium experiences, was a key driver in Apple's success last year.
The burgeoning trend of premiumization also played a crucial role.
According to Popal, devices priced above $800 now represent over 20% of the market, a significant increase from previous years. This trend directly benefited Apple, whose iPhones consistently command higher price points than many Android rivals.
However, Apple's reign is not entirely unchallenged.
While it secured the top spot for 2023, Samsung remains a formidable competitor. Additionally, Chinese players like Xiaomi and Huawei are constantly innovating and gaining ground, making the future of the market anything but predictable.
Ryan Reith, the group VP of IDC's Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, concluded that "the overall shift in ranking at the top of the market further highlights the intensity of competition within the smartphone market."