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2022 saw smartphone shipments drop to 10-year lows

Apple and Samsung were tops in a tough economy.
SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 11, 2022 - Customers select and try out iPhone14 series at an Apple store in Shanghai, China, Nov 11, 2022. In many countries, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the price of Apple's iPhone 14 series of smartphones has risen sharply, with only Chinese and US consumers marginally affected. Specifically, the starting price of the iPhone 14 rose by about $90 in the United Kingdom, about $34 in Australia and about $100 in Germany. The premium model, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, is about $170 more expensive in the UK than when it was released last year. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|January 17, 2023 12:30 PM

PC makers weren't the only ones who dealt with a grim 2022. Canalys estimates that smartphone shipments tanked 11 percent year-over-year, making it worst annual performance in a decade. The fourth quarter was worse — shipments fell 17 percent compared to the end of 2021. That was also the worst fourth quarter of the past 10 years, according to analysts.

Most industry heavyweights had a tough time, too. Apple and Samsung were the only two major brands to gain market share in 2022, growing to 19 and 22 percent respectively. Chinese rivals Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo all shrank. It won't surprise you to hear that Apple overtook Samsung in the last quarter (the iPhone 14 family was brand new, while the Galaxy S22 was relatively old). However, it was still a record high — Apple claimed 25 percent of the market in the fall where Samsung had 'just' 20 percent. Higher-end brands held steady, in other words.

You might already know why the market went south. The combination of a tough economy and supply problems hurt demand and created shortages. Even if you could afford your dream smartphone, you might have had a difficult time finding it. That led companies to run sales and otherwise go to great lengths to entice customers and clear out unsold stock.

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Don't expect 2023 to be much better. Canalys predicts that the smartphone space might only grow slightly at best. China's re-opening is poised to help, but researchers only believe the effect will be noticeable toward the second half of the year. If that proves true, phone makers may still end up fighting for your attention with aggressive promos.

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2022 saw smartphone shipments drop to 10-year lows