For the first time in nine years, Samsung or Apple did not top the global smartphone charts. According to a Canalys report, Huawei sold most phones in the second quarter of 2020 thanks to its growing dominance in China, the largest smartphone market.

According to Canalys, Huawei shipped 55.8 million units, about 2 million more phones than Samsung (53.7 million), which took second place, followed by Apple. While countries like the US, where Samsung and Apple are in pole position, continue to struggle with the restrictions of Covid-19, China has largely returned to normal, so Huawei can close the gap.

This can also be seen in the numbers. Huawei's smartphone sales decreased 5% year over year. However, Samsung suffered a sharp 30% drop from the second quarter of 2019 when it reportedly shipped over 70 million phones.

According to Ben Stanton, senior analyst at Canalys, Huawei "was able to take full advantage of China's economic recovery to get its smartphone business going again". "Samsung has a very low presence in China with a market share of less than 1% and has been hit by breakouts and subsequent closures in its core markets such as Brazil, India, the United States and Europe," he added.

However, analysts are concerned about whether Huawei can keep this top spot as smartphone sales in other countries recover.

Almost three-quarters of Huawei's shipments come from China, and troubled relationships in the west have caused a 27% decline in non-China regions. The Chinese provider's phones outside of China no longer offer Google services due to the US trade ban. This can potentially wipe out the remaining quarter of its business.

In addition, Apple's more competitive push through affordable phones like the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE has also affected Huawei's share in China. According to a Counterpoint Research report from last week, Apple was the fastest growing smartphone brand in China in the second quarter of 2020, with deliveries up 32% year over year.

Canalys analyst Mo Jio believes that it will be difficult for Huawei to "maintain its lead over the long term." “Key distributors in key regions like Europe are increasingly concerned about getting Huawei devices within range, adopting fewer models and launching new brands to reduce risk. The strength in China alone will not be enough to keep Huawei at the top as the global economy recovers, ”he continued.

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