Huawei tops the worldwide smartphone market for the first time

It edged ahead of Samsung in Q2 2020.


Despite bans in the US and its own dire predictions, Huawei shipped more smartphones last quarter than any other company, according to research firm Canalys. The Chinese company took over from previous world leader Samsung, as Huawei’s sales declined by only five percent to 55.8 million units, compared to a 30 percent drop for Samusung to 53.7 million smartphones shipped.

China mainly drove Huawei’s success. While smartphone sales dropped significantly in the US and elsewhere due the coronavirus, China was touched to a far lesser degree by the pandemic. 70 percent of Huawei’s sales are now in China (thanks in part to the US ban), while Samsung only has a tiny sliver of the Chinese market.

“Amidst a period of unprecedented global economic slowdown and challenges, we’ve continued to grow and further our leadership position by providing innovative products and experience to consumers,” Huawei said in an statement to Engadget. “Our business has demonstrated exceptional resilience in these difficult times.”

Huawei can no longer sell new smartphone models with Google’s Play Store and apps installed because of the US government ban. It skirted that to a degree by re-releasing the P30 Pro, but newer models like the Mate 30 Pro are Google-free. Still, it did manage to ink a new global patent licensing deal with Qualcomm, which at least ensures that it can still build chips — if it can find a company to make them.

Despite its success this quarter, it might not hold the position for long. In its earnings report today, Samsung said it expects mobile sales to rebound this quarter when it launches a bunch of new devices, including two smartphones, at its Unpacked event on August 5th at 10 AM ET.

Update 9AM ET: Changed language to clarify Canalys’ figures reflect phones shipped, rather than sold.