Omdia has answered a pressing question that has been on your mind. Which smartphone was the most popular last year? When we say most popular, we are basing this on the number of units shipped worldwide. Before we get to the answer, let’s first go back to the same question for 2019. In that year, the Apple iPhone XR was the most shipped phone globally with 46.3 million units delivered. The average selling price of the device was $777USD. Number two was the Apple iPhone 11 with 37.3 million handsets shipped.
Interestingly, it was 2019’s runner-up that took the crown last year as the iPhone 11 led the way with a whopping 64.8 million units shipped last year. And it wasn’t even close. While the difference between the number of phones shipped between the first place model and the second place one was only 9 million units in 2019, last year that gap was 40.6 million handsets. Perhaps due to the pandemic which kept many consumers from earning a living last year, the second most popular handset was the iPhone SE (2020). With an average selling price of $451, the iPhone 8 doppelganger (albeit with an A13 Bionic inside and 3GB of storage) shipped 24.2 million handsets.
Apple was also responsible for the third most popular phone worldwide last year, the iPhone 12. Even though the pandemic forced Apple to release the phone over a month later than the normal September date, it was delivered 23.3 million times. Part of Apple’s first series of 5G phones, the handset was the second most expensive phone on the list with an average selling price of $896.

Samsung was responsible for the next three phones on the list as the Galaxy A51 captured fourth place, the Galaxy A21s budget phone was fifth, and the Galaxy A01 was sixth. Those three models were delivered 23.2 million, 19.4 million, and 16.9 million times respectively. While the A51 could be considered a mid-ranger, the Galaxy A01 is the lowest priced phone among the top ten with an average selling price of $115 putting it in the budget category.

Only Apple had flagship models on the list of the most shipped smartphones in 2020

Ironically, right after the least expensive phone on the list is the most expensive. With an average selling price of $1,232, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max was the seventh most popular phone of 2020. It also is the top of Apple’s 2020 handset line. That phone was followed by the Samsung Galaxy A11 with a total of 15.3 million shipped last year. Xiaomi had the ninth most popular phone last year with the Redmi Note 9 Pro. 15 million units shipped with an average selling price of $161. And rounding out the top ten of the most shipped phones in 2020 was the iPhone 12 mini with 14.5 million phones shipped. This model has not been selling as well as Apple hoped, according to reports, so there has been talk that Apple will stop production of the phone during the second quarter.
Considering that the iPhone 12 models on the list were only available for less than two months during 2020, we’d say that Apple should feel pretty good about the popularity of the iPhone. In fact, going through both the 2019 and 2020 lists, we can see that only Apple was able to place flagship models among the 20 phones listed for the two years.
Jusy Hong, Senior Research Manager Wireless Devices Components & Devices at Omdia said that “The top 10 list illustrates Apple’s tight grip on the overall smartphone market and the strength of its brand compared to all other smartphone OEMs. The list also illustrates that other OEMs, even a globally well positioned brand like Samsung, have trouble breaking through to consumers with their own premium devices – no Galaxy S or Note-line model made it into the top 10. The only other OEM with a real shot at challenging Apple’s position as the top premium smartphone OEM, Huawei, will see its role in the international smartphone market continue to decrease. Other brands, like Xiaomi, vivo and OPPO have other product portfolio priorities than challenging Apple in the premium segment at this point.”

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