Samsung vs Huawei vs Apple Battle for Top Smartphone Maker in 2021

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The year 2020 wasn’t a propitious year for many of us. Especially for the top smartphone makers ̶ Samsung, Huawei, and of course, US tech giant— Apple, who were looking to increase their market share value. The race to the top is a tightly contested one, and only those with a robust approach and goals will make it to the very top.

Sequel to our first post on the battle for the top smartphone maker in 2020, this article will expose how the smartphone market is shared among these top smartphone makers towards the start of 2021. It will closely examine those making big moves, losing their spot, and everything in between.

The battle for the top smartphone maker in 2021 will be an exciting watch as the tech giants are leaving no stone unturned and holding back every surprise for the right moment.

The coronavirus pandemic dealt a big blow on the Global smartphone industry, causing it to experience three consecutive declines in 2020. However, the rise of the 5G network and foldable phones, and as many countries begin to open up their economies, could be setting the stage for a glorious 2021. Although we can’t hand over the victory to anyone yet as 2021 is just starting, looking at the big moves between the Second and third quarter of last year, 2021 will be a shocker!

End of 2020 Figures

At the end of the third quarter of 2020, 354.7 million smartphones were shipped globally by Smartphone vendors. This resulted in a major year on year decline of 1.1 percent compared to the Q3 of the previous year. This sat at 358.5 million units shipped, IDC reports.

Samsung & Huawei

The South Korean giant— Samsung, clinched the top spot at the end of Q3 with a comfortable market share of 22.7 percent. Cash Cow Huawei came up into the second spot and Apple trailed behind. Clinching the top spot wasn’t a comfortable ride, as Huawei roared its way to the first position during Q2 with a 20.2 percent market share value. This was possible because while other nations were struggling to keep their economies together due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Huawei’s home country— China, was already adapting well to the situation and opening their economy. 

Huawei shipped more products, despite chronic US sanctions. Samsung will also look to maintain dominance in the global smartphone industry as it began shipping its foldable phones, which has somewhat been the talk of the town.


Apple experienced a significant decline in its market share from 13.6 percent to 11.8 percent, leaving them to settle at the fourth position behind Xiaomi. Interestingly, the new quarter results are expected to reveal how the iPhone 12 and M1 Mac models‘ sales performed.

These products were launched at the end of the year and were not counted in Apple’s fourth-quarter 2020 fiscal results. This was majorly attributed to the delay in releasing the new iPhone 12 series, as Apple usually launches new products during the third quarter of every year. However, the iPhone 11 series had a jinx on the market, performing well while keeping Apple’s market share above water. Looking ahead, and with the rumored iPhone 13 series in view, Apple is likely to have a fantastic year.

The Highway to 5G Enablement

The covid19 pandemic brought many nations to their knees and many companies to yield. Everyone thought that 2020 would have been the year 5G invigorated the mobile industry, setting the stage for significant advancement, but Covid-19 put many things on hold. Hopefully, with economies in China and other parts of the world opening up, sales are bouncing back, and many consumers are already scooping a variety of new 5G phones.

5G is not just hype; its capabilities are mind-blowing—coverage will get better, speeds of up to 100 times better than 4G. Eventually, phones will get cheaper because the clamor for 5G phones will get intense. After all, consumers will begin to experience the promise of 5G and see it as a “must-have” rather than a flagship throw-in on the latest device.

We all know that the smartphone market is for the survival of the fittest, so many vendors had to carry out virtual conferences to engage their customers with their new 5G products. While vendors like Samsung and Huawei had released 5G phones earlier in the year, Apple’s iPhone 12 series comes packed with 5G capabilities, which is likely to upset the top smartphone maker’s battle in 2021.

New Smartphone releases in 2021

With customer’s tastes changing with time, smartphone vendors have to continue to upgrade their phone capabilities.


Samsung released a Samsung Z Fold 2 mobile device, a sequel to the Samsung Z fold, which turns almost everything we hated in the former. This device is not just a phone, but a movement to change absolutely everything we know about the single-faced mobile design. While the price for the Samsung Z Fold 2 is pegged at $2000, it has received wide acceptance worldwide even when the price is not within the range of regular phones.


On the other hand, Huawei launched the Mate 30 Pro in September 2020. The smartphone has received massive sales as customers are jumping to get a feel of the new 5G powered device. It was quite a surprise that Huawei could remain a contender for the top smartphone maker in 2021 despite all the sanctions slapped on their faces by the US government. With the United States being their second-largest market, it will be challenging to maintain the same momentum in previous years. At some point, bowing to pressure, they head to sell their honor brand out of pressure to remain competitive.

Let’s be honest; Huawei has lost a lot of the popularity it enjoyed in previous years. The best we can do is to blame it on Covid-19 or blame the US government sanctions. Whichever way, a lot of countries are wary of doing business with the tech giant. Huawei will need to pass through the eye of a needle if they want to return their business to normal, as many countries are joining the USA to put a hold on new trade and testing with the Chinese giant. With Donald Trump’s exit from Power, maybe the wind of change in the US government will move to favor Huawei’s global business. 


With extensive sales of the iPhone 12 series rushing in, Apple might release the all-anticipated iPhone 13 series in 2021. Apple’s double attack move might leave the competition gasping for air as customers might not get enough of the iPhone 12 before switching to the iPhone 13. Rumor has it that the iPhone 13 is likely to come with a port less design with no lightning ports included and an upgraded 5G modem chip from Qualcomm. This will be a major ice-breaker for Apple, but we can only expect the worst and prepare for the best as the year runs down.

Moving Ahead

The year has just begun, and the top smartphone maker’s battle in 2021 is yet to be won. Huawei has a LOT of work to do regarding canceling the sanctions and getting google and android services back on their devices, which is widely accepted worldwide. They’ll need a certain type of balls to pull through. On the other side, all we can do is watch Apple and Samsung see what surprises they have in store for us come the second and third quarter of 2021.

Indeed, 2021 will be an exciting year for the smartphone industry as more companies’ roll out affordable 5G enabled devices, AI, and IoT enabled devices with upgraded camera qualities. So will Samsung continue to be the top smartphone maker? Or are we expecting a big shift? Only time will tell.

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