A new study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) examining smartphone shipments during the last full quarter has shown that despite a slight decrease compared to the same period last year, Samsung remains on top, shipping over 30 million more units than its closest competitor, Apple.
There were a total of 334.9 million devices shipped in the first quarter of 2016. And while that’s an increase from the 334.3 million units shipped in Q1 2015, it marks the smallest annual growth rate since the invention of smartphones.
Samsung kept its place as the number one manufacturer; its 81.9 million shipped devices represents a 0.6 percent year-over-year decline, but it’s still way ahead of Apple. IDC notes that the South Korean giant’s decrease would have been higher, were it not for the S7 and S7 Edge “selling vigorously,” partly due to strong promotions from carriers.
Apple saw it first-ever decline in yearly smartphone sales. The Cupertino company shipped 51.2 million iPhones in the last quarter, down 16.3 percent from the previous year. The decrease has been attributed to the lack of new features on the iPhone 6s, meaning many people have chosen to wait for the iPhone 7 instead.
There was good news for Chinese phone-makers. Huawei stole the number three position after its shipments increased 58.4 percent from last year, thanks to its mix of entry-level, mid-range, and premium devices proving popular both in its home country and around the world. Oppo and Vivo, meanwhile, pushed Lenovo and Xiaomi out of the top five, after the companies recorded massive growth rates of 153.2% and 123.8%, respectively.
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"Outside of China, many of these brands are virtually unknown and the ability of these rapidly growing Chinese vendors to gain entry into mature markets such as the United States and Western Europe will be essential if they have aspirations of catching Apple or Samsung at the top," Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement.
Part of the reason why overall smartphone growth has stagnated is because the market is reaching saturation point. Most people already own a device they’re happy with, and as many new generations of phones offer few improvements over older models, manufacturers are having a hard time convincing people they should upgrade.