Global smartphone shipments tanked by 20.4 percent due to the pandemic

Only Apple managed to come out relatively unscathed.

Chris Velazco / Engadget

A new report from Gartner says global smartphone sales dropped 20.4 percent to 295 million in Q2 2020. And as you might have guessed, the coronavirus pandemic played a significant role. "Travel restrictions, retail closures and more prudent spending on nonessential products during the pandemic led to the second consecutive quarterly decline in smartphone sales this year," said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.

Of the major phone manufacturers, only Apple came out relatively unscathed. According to Gartner, the company sold 38 million iPhones in Q2 2020, representing a decline of 0.4 percent year-over-year. The firm says the recent release of the updated iPhone SE and improving market conditions in China helped the company. What may have also aided Apple — or at the very least not hurt it — is the situation in India.

With a 46 percent decline, Gartner says the South Asian country saw the worst drop in smartphone sales among the top five markets for phones globally. Before the pandemic, India was one of the few places where smartphone sales were growing globally, but the country adopted strict lockdown measures to cope with the coronavirus. And while Apple had a presence in India before the pandemic, particularly in the premium segment, it was not among the top five manufacturers.

In Q2 2019, Samsung and four Chinese firms — Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme and Oppo — held that position. Three of those companies — Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo — also appear in Gartner's list of the biggest phone brands globally, and they're the same manufacturers that saw the steepest declines in sales of their phones. Samsung, in particular, had a tough last three months. The South Korean company sold approximately 54 million units in Q2 2020, a 27.1 percent decline year-over-year. Xiaomi and Oppo didn't fare much better either. They saw sales of their phones decline by 21.5 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively.

For Huawei, Samsung’s loss was the company’s gain. Gartner says the two are in a “virtual tie” for the number one position — though it’s worth noting research firm Canalys recently said Huawei shipped more phones than Samsung this past quarter.

If there's any silver lining for phone manufacturers, it's that some of them also make PCs. The same shelter-in-place orders that tanked phone demand, helped boost computer sales this past quarter.