Strong Q1 global smartphone shipments could be just the start of an AI-led rebound

Strong Q1 global smartphone shipments could be just the start of an AI-led rebound

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The global smartphone market started 2024 with a strong first quarter that saw smartphone shipments rise 10% year-over-year to hit 296.2 million units. After 10 tough quarters, the smartphone market finally turned the corner with Samsung at the top. The company delivered 60 million smartphones led by new mid-range Galaxy A models and the release of the flagship Galaxy S24 series. With 48.7 million iPhones shipped during Q1, Apple dropped back to second place thanks to a double-digit decline in units delivered.

Canalys Senior Analyst Sanyam Chaurasia summarized Samsung’s return to the top by saying, “Samsung’s S24 launch reflects a pivotal moment in its AI and premium strategy, with the potential to reshape the industry. Compared to last year’s S23 release, Samsung launched the Galaxy S24 a month earlier and shipped 13.5 million units, a 35% year-over-year shipment growth vs its predecessor in Q1.”

The analyst continued by adding, “The pull factor from Galaxy AI, the large scale of retail points elevating the customer experience, and a better time-to-market strategy, drove the strong performance of the Galaxy S24. Beyond empowering Samsung’s premium positioning, it also signals a broader shift in the smartphone industry towards AI-driven innovation. Samsung will look to leverage its early momentum by crafting compelling value propositions for users with Galaxy AI; solidifying premium competitiveness and fostering brand stickiness.”

During the January through March period, Samsung’s shipments of 60 million phones allowed it to grab a leading 20% market share (down from last year’s Q1 share of 22%). Samsung saw its Q1 shipments decline 1%. As we said, Apple shipped 48.7 million iPhones during the opening quarter of 2024, a 16% decline on an annual basis. As a result, Apple’s market share dropped from 21% during the 2023 first quarter to 16% during the first quarter this year.

Xiaomi had a strong quarter with global shipments up 33% to 40.7 million units. The company saw its worldwide market share rise from 11% to 14%. Little-known manufacturer Transsion continued its strong rise from nowhere and had the best quarter among the top five with an 86% annual gain in shipments to 28.6 million from the 15.4 million it delivered during the same quarter last year. The manufacturer’s market share continues to rise growing from 6% after last year’s first quarter to 10% after Q1 of 2024.

And at number five was Oppo. The company saw its Q1 2024 phone shipments hit 25 million units, off 6% from the 26.6 million phones it shipped during Q1 2023.

Can the global smartphone market continue to recover? If consumers continue to show a strong interest in AI and manufacturers are smart enough to add new AI features, the rest of 2024 and even 2025 could continue to show rebounding strength in smartphone shipments worldwide.

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