Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Grew 9.7 Percent in Fourth Quarter of 2015

Global Smartphone Sales Exhibited Slowest Growth Since 2008 iPhone Sales Declined for the First Time

Mumbai, India, 18th February, 2016 — Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 403 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, a 9.7 percent increase over the same period in 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, this was their slowest growth rate since 2008. In 2015 as a whole, smartphone sales reached 1.4 billion units, an increase of 14.4 percent from 2014.

“Low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, and strong demand for premium smartphones, continued to be the driving factors,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. “An aggressive pricing from local and Chinese brands in the midrange and entry-level segments of emerging markets led to consumers upgrading more quickly to affordable smartphones.”

Mr. Gupta said that 85 percent of users in the emerging Asia/Pacific market are replacing their current midrange phone with the same category of phone. In addition, currency devaluations against the U.S. dollar in many emerging markets are putting further margin pressure on many vendors that import devices. Current market conditions are prompting some vendors to consider setting up manufacturing operations in India and Indonesia to avoid being hit by future unfavorable currency devaluations and high import taxes.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, Samsung and Huawei were the only two top-five smartphone vendors to increase their sales to end users (see Table 1). Apple suffered its first decline in sales of smartphones — iPhone sales were down 4.4 percent.

Table 1

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 4Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Company 4Q15


4Q15 Market Share (%) 4Q14


4Q14 Market Share (%)
Samsung 83,437.7 20.7 73,031.5 19.9
Apple 71,525.9 17.7 74,831.7 20.4
Huawei 32,116.5 8.0 21,038.1 5.7
Lenovo* 20,014.7 5.0 24,299.9 6.6
Xiaomi 18,216.6 4.5 18,581.6 5.1
Others 177,798.0 44.1 155,551.6 42.3
Total 403,109.4 100.0 367,334.4 100.0

*The figures for Lenovo include sales of mobile phones by both Lenovo and Motorola

Source: Gartner (February 2016)

Although Samsung was the No.1 vendor, Gartner analysts said the company faces challenges. “For Samsung to stop falling sales of premium smartphones, it needs to introduce new flagship smartphones that can compete with iPhones and stop the churn to iOS devices,” said Mr. Gupta.

With an increase in sales of 53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, Huawei achieved the best performance year over year. Huawei’s increased brand visibility overseas, and its decision to sell almost only smartphones, gave it a higher average selling price in 2015.

For total sales of smartphones in 2015, Samsung maintained the No. 1 position, but its market share declined by 2.2 percentage points (see Table 2). In 2015, Apple sold 225.9 million iPhones, to achieve a market share of almost 16 percent. Huawei’s smartphone sales approached 104 million units, up 53 percent year over year.

Table 2

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2015 (Thousands of Units)

Company 2015


2015 Market Share (%) 2014


2014 Market Share (%)
Samsung 320,219.7 22.5 307,596.9 24.7
Apple 225,850.6 15.9 191,425.8 15.4
Huawei 104,094.7 7.3 68,080.7 5.5
Lenovo* 72,748.2 5.1 81,415.8 6.5
Xiaomi 65,618.6 4.6 56,529.3 4.5
Others 635,368.5 44.6 539,691.3 43.4
Total 1,423,900.3 100.0 1,244,739.8 100.0

*The figures for Lenovo include sales of mobile phones by both Lenovo and Motorola

Source: Gartner (February 2016)

In terms of smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android increased 16.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, to account for 80.7 percent of the global total (see Table 3). “Android benefited from continued demand for affordable smartphones and from the slowdown of iOS units in the premium market in the fourth quarter of 2015,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. In the premium segment, despite Apple’s slower year-over-year fourth-quarter sales, Apple narrowed the market share gap with Samsung in 2015 as a whole.

Table 3

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Operating System 4Q15


4Q15 Market Share (%) 4Q14


4Q14 Market Share (%)
Android 325,394.4 80.7 279,057.5 76.0
iOS 71,525.9 17.7 74,831.7 20.4
Windows 4,395.0 1.1 10,424.5 2.8
Blackberry 906.9 0.2 1,733.9 0.5
Others 887.3 0.2 1,286.9 0.4
Total 403,109.4 100.0 367,334.4 100.0
Source: Gartner (February 2016)

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “Market Share: Devices, All Countries, 4Q15 Update.



Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He is Editor-in-Chief of Digital Creed, which he founded in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 27 years of journalism experience (since 1994). He is sound and confident about his knowledge of business technology concepts. And he is a believer in continual education/learning. Brian is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines (India). He has written hundreds of technology articles for India's leading newspaper groups such as The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers (among others). And he has conducted more than 300 industry interviews during his journalism career. Brian also writes on Aviation, cybersecurity, startups, and topics directed at small and medium businesses. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn.

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