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Apple overtakes Samsung as the biggest smartphone vendor

Apple may be back on top — at least for a quarter. According to research from Strategy Analytics, Apple shipped 70.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2019 — slightly beating Samsung’s estimated 68.8 million shipments. The news is confirmed by a report from Counterpoint Research, which noted a slightly higher estimated 72.9 million iPhone units, compared to Samsung’s 70 million units.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple nabbed a huge 19% of the global smartphone market share in the fourth quarter, with Samsung’s grabbing 18%. Huawei sat in with 15%, while Xiaomi and Oppo achieved 9% and 8%, respectively.

Apple’s success is likely due to huge sales of the new iPhone 11 series. There are three iPhone 11 models, each of which boasts an improved camera, increased performance, and more. While the iPhone 11 offers a similar overall design compared to previous iPhone models, meaningful upgrades in the camera have made it a hot-ticket item over the past few months, since its launch in September.

Apple reported a massive $22.2 billion in profit for the last quarter of 2019 with $91.8 billion in revenue. That makes the fourth quarter of 2019 Apple’s most profitable in history. Samsung, on the other hand, dropped 38 percent in profit. While it did get a boost in its mobile business, that wasn’t enough to offset declines in other businesses, like memory chips.

“Fourth quarter profit dropped from a year earlier due to the continued fall in memory chip prices and weakness in display panels,” Samsung said in a press release. “Improving demand for memory used in servers and mobile products, as well as solid sales of flagship smartphones, helped ease the decline in overall earnings.”

Of course, the last quarter only shows part of the picture. Over the year as a whole, Samsung shipped many more smartphones than Apple. According to IHS Markit, Samsung shipped 295 million smartphones in 2019, beating out Apple’s 193 million.

It’s also important to note that it’s unlikely any of the major smartphone manufacturers will reach similar heights until the last quarter of 2020. That’s due to the fact that sales were largely helped along by the holiday season, along with the fact that new iPhones generally launch in the final quarter of the year.

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