The good news for smartphone manufacturers is that worldwide shipments grew by 12% and hit a record high of 1.4 billion in 2015. The bad news is that the industry just isn’t expanding as quickly as it has done in the past. Last year’s fourth quarter shipments grew just six percent from the same period in 2014, marking the sector's slowest growth rate of all time.

The results come from research company Strategy Analytics, which says that the slowdown is primarily due to most people in major markets like China already owning a smartphone and not feeling the need to upgrade. It also cites consumer fears over a global economic downturn as a reason for the slow growth rate.

When it comes to who leads global smartphone shipments, Samsung continues to stay ahead of the pack, shifting 81.3 million units in Q4 and 319.7 million units throughout 2015. The 9 percent quarter increase from Q4 2014 represents the Korean company’s fastest growth rate for almost 2 years.

Samsung stays ahead of Apple, which shipped 74.8 million units in Q4 and 231.5 million across all of last year – a big improvement on the 193 million devices the Cupertino company shipped in 2014.

Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments
(Millions of Units)
Q4 '14 2014 Q4 '15 2015
Samsung 74.5 317.2 81.3 319.7
Apple 74.5 192.7 74.8 231.5
Huawei 24.1 74.1 32.6 107.1
Lenovo-Motorola 24.7 92.7 20.2 73.9
Xiaomi 17.0 61.1 19.5 72.0
Others 165.3 545.7 176.1 637.5
Total 380.1 1283.5 404.5 1441.7
Global Smartphone Vendor
Marketshare (%)
Q4 '14 2014 Q4 '15 2015
Samsung 19.6% 24.7% 20.1% 22.2%
Apple 19.6% 15.0% 18.5% 16.1%
Huawei 6.3% 5.8% 8.1% 7.4%
Lenovo-Motorola 6.5% 7.2% 5.0% 5.1%
Xiaomi 4.5% 4.8% 4.8% 5.0%
Others 43.5% 42.5% 43.5% 44.2%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Total Growth: Year-over-Year (%) 31.0% 29.6% 6.4% 12.3%

The figures show that Samsung had a 22 percent share of the smartphone market across 2015, while Apple took an 18 percent market share. The research site noted that Apple will need to expand into developing markets such as India and Nigeria if it wants to boost iPhone growth in 2016.

Just below Apple lies Huawei, which jumped in front of Lenovo-Motorola into third place. The Chinese firm will no doubt be pleased that it shipped over 100 million smartphones in one year for the first time ever. Lenovo-Motorola, meanwhile, was the only company in the top five to see its shipments decline – down 18 percent across the whole of 2015.

Xiaomi stayed at fifth place with a five percent market share. It shipped 11 million more handsets in 2015 than it did in 2014, but growth slowed down in the final quarter. Xiaomi only shipped 2 million more units in Q4 2015 than it did in Q4 2014.