In 2023, Samsung was not the most shipped smartphone globally for the first time since 2010. For the first time, Apple and its well-known iPhone led the list, shipping an estimated 234.6 million units, according to a survey released on Tuesday by International Data Group.
It’s a significant achievement for Apple, whose iPhone recorded an all-time high market share of 20.1%. Furthermore, the announcement comes at a bad moment for Samsung, which is anticipated to make its much-discussed Galaxy S24 phone series premiere on Wednesday at its Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event.
Want to view it in a different light? Nokia was the #1 phone brand the last time Samsung wasn’t. According to Engadget, Apple didn’t even make the top five back then.
Since then, Apple and Samsung have been fighting it out for the top spot. Apple has been ranked first in a few publications on quarterly phone shipments, but up until now, Samsung has been leading the pack in annual shipments. In September of last year, Apple released the portfolio of iPhone 15 models.
Despite a 3.2% annual decline in smartphone shipments to 1.17 billion units in 2023—the lowest full-year number in a decade—global smartphone shipments may be improving, according to technology research firm IDC. The second half of the year’s growth has solidified the anticipated rebound in 2024, and the fourth quarter saw growth that was higher than anticipated, at 8.5% as opposed to the projected 7.3%.
According to a statement from Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team, “we saw some strong growth from low-end Android players like Transsion and Xiaomi in the second half of 2023, stemming from rapid growth in emerging markets, but Apple is clearly the biggest winner.”
Popal pointed out that despite facing more regulatory obstacles and Huawei’s resurgence as a rival in China, its biggest market, Apple has managed to succeed. She said that the company’s success was mostly due to consumers’ desire for high-end products, which currently account for more than 20% of the market.
And competition is probably going to continue.
The fierce rivalry in the smartphone industry is further highlighted by the overall movement in the top rankings, according to a statement from Ryan Reith, group vice president of IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.
He pointed out that the Android market as a whole is becoming more diverse, with companies like Google, OnePlus, and Honor releasing competitive smartphones and China-based Huawei appearing ready for a comeback in spite of US sanctions.
According to Reith’s IDC report, “all things considered, the smartphone space is headed towards a very interesting time.”
AI and Samsung Galaxy phones
Nevertheless, Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event on Wednesday ought to bring the brand back into the public eye. The Galaxy S24 series is anticipated to differentiate itself from its predecessors with the likely addition of new software features, such as more generative AI-powered capabilities.
It should come as no surprise that AI, which recently took center stage at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, will play a significant role in the upcoming phone lineup. As promised by the business, Galaxy AI will be included in Samsung’s upcoming phones for the first time, offering a “comprehensive mobile AI experience.”
Samsung’s response to ChatGPT and related AI tools is a new generative AI model called Gauss, which the company unveiled in November. It bears the name Carl Friedrich Gauss in honor of the well-known German mathematician who made significant contributions to geometry and number theory.
The three components that comprise Gauss are Gauss Language, Gauss Code, and Gauss Image. Writing emails, summarizing documents, and translating are among the duties that the language component can manage. While Gauss Image is capable of generating and modifying images, Gauss Code was designed to aid with software development.
As we’ve previously documented, there are speculations and leaks indicating that the top-tier Ultra model may get a new titanium build and a flatter edge design, but we’ll have to wait and see what else Samsung has in store.
Galaxy Unpacked will be streamed live on Samsung’s YouTube account will take place in San Jose, California, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. GMT.