In spite of limited inventories affecting consumers, a recent report shows Apple led smartphone sales once again in the fourth quarter of 2021. In fact, even though many buyers had to delay purchasing a new iPhone until 2022 because of the global chip shortage, Apple still enjoyed a year-over-year growth of 3.8%.
Smartphone Sales Recovery Slowed by Supply Constraints
Research firm Gartner points out that 5G created a strong demand for new iPhone models (via AppleInsider). This came after sales had dropped significantly in 2020, mainly because of the coronavirus.
In 2021, sales began to recover. The first half of the year, according to Gartner’s senior research director Anshul Gupta, saw much higher sales. People had more discretionary spending power and stores reopened after lengthy lockdowns Even better, the ability to get 5G-capable smartphones at lower price points helped fuel upgrade purchases.
In the second half of the year, however, component shortages and supply chain issues began disrupting sales. Despite high consumer demand, the growth trend of smartphone sales reversed somewhat.
“Out-of-stock situations for popular models and limited inventories pushed out some of the possible sales to 2022,” Gupta said. Even so, Apple’s iPhone sales remained strong.
Closing Out 2021 Ahead of the Pack
By the end of 2021’s fourth quarter, Apple still had the top spot in smartphone sales. Apple sold more than 82 million iPhones, a year-over-year growth of 3.8 percent compared to the same time in 2020. By way of comparison, Samsung was in second place with just shy of 69 million units sold. Xiaomi sold 44.8 million smartphones, while OPPO reported almost 32.6 million devices sold.
Looking at the numbers for 2021 as a whole, however, Samsung saw more unit sales. According to Gartner, the Korean tech company sold 272 million smartphones throughout all of 2021, whereas Apple sold 239 million.
It will be interesting to see how the Cupertino-based company’s iPhone sales fare throughout 2022.