In brief: The global smartphone market slumped last year as shipments declined 3.2% compared to 2022, but one company that has reason to celebrate is Apple. Cupertino was one of only two manufacturers in the top five to see an increase in growth throughout 2023. It also stole the top spot from Samsung, marking the first time since 2010 that the Korean giant has missed out on the number one position.

Much like the PC industry, which has just experienced its worst 12 months in history, the smartphone market had a terrible 2023. A 3.2% decline to 1.17 billion units shipped last year marked the lowest full-year volume in a decade, writes IDC, the result of economic challenges, the rising cost of living, job losses, and other factors.

The smartphone industry is also mirroring the PC market in that the fourth quarter of the year did see growth. The 8.5% YoY shipments increase in Q4 was higher than expected, leading to optimism that there will be a recovery in 2024.

Looking at individual companies, Apple displaced Samsung at the top of the list for the first time in 13 years. Cupertino's shipments were up 3.7% in 2023 to 234.6 million, giving it a fifth of the total market share and putting it in the number one spot for the first time ever. Samsung's shipments, meanwhile, fell 13.6% to 226.6 million.

Despite the market contracting, the premium smartphone segment, which is made up of phones costing $600 or more, reached a record 24% share last year. It's an area dominated by Apple, which isn't surprising given the price of its handsets; the company took a 71% share.

Going back to overall global shipments, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Transsion make up the rest of the top five. Transsion's shipments were up 30% last year, thanks to its affordable smartphone brands that are extremely popular in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Oceania.

Whether Apple manages to retain its crown as the world's top smartphone seller in 2024 remains to be seen. The company saw iPhone sales plummet 30% YoY in China during the first week of January. That's bad news in a market where Apple has previously enjoyed plenty of success.