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The market’s recovery propels Apple to become the world’s largest phone maker

The global phone market is finally recovering from the post-pandemic slump that ran for 9 quarters straight, and Apple is now officially the world’s biggest cell phone maker. It has shipped 232.6 million iPhones in the last year, according to the latest Omdia numbers, while Samsung follows with 225.3 million. Needless to say, the average selling price of Apple’s iPhones is much higher, so it is easily the world’s most profitable phone maker as well.

The world’s fastest-growing phone company, however, isn’t Apple. Granted, its iPhone 15 series is the booster that landed it in the first place of the 2023 ranking, especially the Pro line with its newfangled zoom prowess that is selling like hot cakes.

In places like China, however, Apple notched a bad 12.9% dive in sales in the fourth quarter, and, guess what, a lot of it went to Huawei. When Huawei announced that it is making a phone in the Mate series with a homebrew processor despite US chip sanctions, local pride boosted its sales in its home turf significantly at the expense of Apple.

Thus, despite that it has a hard time selling its Android-deprived phones abroad, China is still the world’s largest phone market and the local buying spree resulted in Huawei boosting its market share by a whopping 64% in 2023, the highest of anyone in the industry.

Even then Huawei only barely managed to climb into the honorable top 10 ranking, as other Chinese makers registered breathtaking sales numbers. Xiaomi, for instance, is now firmly the world’s biggest Chinese phone maker and third globally with 146.7 million handsets shipped.

The world’s largest phone maker actually isn’t Apple. Oppo and its Galaxy-beating phone specs are number 4 worldwide with 102.5 million despite its patent disputes with Nokia preventing it from selling in major markets for the last two years or so. Now that the 5G patent quarrel has reached its legal resolution and Oppo can start selling in Europe again, it will probably climb up just behind Apple and Samsung.

In fact, the BBK umbrella holding company that was inherited by the Oppo, vivo, Realme, and OnePlus phone brands last year is already the world’s biggest phone maker and has been so for a good while now, when all these sister brands are taken into account. No wonder, given that it not only managed to outrun Apple and Samsung in phones specs for the price but also makes more powerful and elegant foldable phones, which made Samsung take notice and decide to go cheaper and thinner with the Z Fold line.

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