In brief: The fourth quarter of last year wasn't just a good one for Apple's iPhones; it was also a stellar period for its iPad line, with shipments growing 40 percent year-on-year to 19.2 million---the tablets' best quarterly performance in six years.

Data from market research firm IDC released earlier this week showed the smartphone market rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020, helped by Apple shipping more handsets than any other vendor has ever managed in a single quarter---90.1 million.

A new report from a different research group, Canalys, shows that Apple's iPads also had a fantastic Q4 2020. The 19.2 million slates it shipped gave the company a 36 percent share of the market, marking the highest number of iPad shipments since 2014.

Samsung trails behind Apple in the number two spot. The Korean giant moved 9.9 million iPads, up 41 percent YoY, while Amazon was third with 6.5 million shipments. The only company in the top five to see declines was Huawei (-24 percent). The Chinese firm is feeling the effects of US sanctions, having also seen its smartphone shipments fall 42 percent in the fourth quarter.

Total tablet shipments in Q4 were up 54 percent YoY, more than the smartphone industry's 4.3 percent increase. For the whole of 2020, 28 percent more slates shipped than in 2019.

The pandemic has again been cited as a significant reason behind the tablet resurgence, though the wide variety of price points, number of models, and connectivity options also helped entice consumers.

Canalys also looked at global PC shipments, which combine desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets. Lenovo topped the list for both Q4 and the whole of 2020, followed by Apple, HP, Dell, and Samsung. 458.2 million units were shipped throughout the year, marking a 17 percent YoY growth rate.