Analysts: Smartphone shipments broke records in 2015 despite slowest-ever growth in Q4

Analysts revealed that global smartphone shipments hit record highs in in 2015 despite growth in the fourth quarter slowing to an all-time low.

Strategy Analytics said smartphone shipments grew 12 per cent year-on-year to 1.4 billion units through 2015, but noted that growth in the final quarter of the year slowed to 6 per cent year-on-year with shipments of 404.5 million.

IDC released similar figures that showed 2015 shipments grew 10.1 per cent to 1.4 billion units while fourth-quarter shipments of 399.5 million units were 5.7 per cent higher than the same period of 2014.

Strategy Analytics director Linda Sui said the fourth quarter "was the smartphone industry's slowest growth rate of all time," with shipments impacted by "increasing penetration maturity in major markets like China and consumer worries about the future of the world economy."

Both companies placed Samsung at the top of the list of smartphone vendors by shipments. Strategy Analytics said Samsung shipped 81.3 million units in the fourth quarter and 319.7 million throughout the year for a 22 per cent market share. IDC said Samsung's fourth-quarter shipments totalled 85.6 million units and full year 324.8 million -- also equivalent to a 22 per cent share.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said Samsung's fourth-quarter shipments grew 9 per cent year-on-year. "This was the fastest growth rate for almost two years and it helped Samsung to stay ahead of Apple," he noted.

The analyst noted that Apple's fourth-quarter shipments of 74.8 million units were "barely changed from a year earlier when it delivered 74.5 million units." For the full year Apple held onto second place in Strategy Analytics' vendor ranking, with shipments of 231.5 million units giving it a 16.1 per cent share.

IDC's figures are broadly in line. The company said Apple enjoyed its most successful quarter ever in the final three months of 2015, but noted that the U.S. vendor saw minimal shipments growth through the full year and achieved a 16.2 per cent share of total shipments.

While IDC hailed Huawei's performance in the fourth quarter, noting that the company topped annual growth comparisons by growing shipments 37 per cent year-on-year to 32.4 million units, Strategy Analytics director Woody Oh pointed out the growth rate is roughly half of the 62 per cent year-on-year rise in shipments Huawei achieved in the third quarter.

Both research companies ranked Lenovo-Motorola in fourth place. Strategy Analytics said the Chinese vendor shipped 73.9 million units through the year, and IDC 74 million. Xiaomi was ranked fifth by both companies, with Strategy Analytics stating the vendor shipped 72 million units and IDC 70.8 million.

For more:
- see this Strategy Analytics announcement
- view IDC's shipments report

Related articles:
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Smartphone shipments growth becomes hard to find in Europe - Year in Review
Analysts: Smartphone shipments growth slows to worst level in six years during Q2
Strategy Analytics: Global dual-SIM smartphone sales to reach 514M units in 2016
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