Samsung retakes smartphone crown from Apple during slow Q1: TrendForce

Samsung reclaimed its crown as the world’s largest smartphone vendor during a particularly slow first quarter, TrendForce reported.

The South Korean electronics giant claimed 26.1% of smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2017, according to TrendForce estimates, up from 18.5% during the same period a year ago. Apple’s share of the smartphone market fell to 16.9% from 20.3% during the previous year.

Huawei was the third-largest vendor in the first quarter with 11.4%, followed by Oppo (8.1%), BBK/Vivo (6.2%) and LG (4.6%).

Samsung lost its grip on the No. 1 spot to Apple during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Strategy Analytics, due to the disastrous launch of the Galaxy Note 7. The company continued to feel the sting of the Note 7 during the first quarter, but sales were buoyed by less expensive handsets, according to TrendForce.

“Samsung’s sales results for its high-end smartphones fell short of expectations in the first quarter as consumers’ confidence in the brand had yet to fully recover from the recall of Galaxy Note 7,” TrendForce observed. “Nevertheless, Samsung continued to do very well in the mid-range and low-end segments of the market. The economically priced, high-performing Galaxy J series sustained Samsung’s shipments and contributed significantly to the expansion of the brand’s overall smartphone production volume. Samsung was the only brand that saw positive growth in production volume during the off season of the first quarter.”

Vendors churned out 307 million smartphones during the first quarter, according to TrendForce, marking a 23% drop in production from the previous quarter. While a seasonal drop-off is to be expected following the holidays, the market research firm doesn’t expect sales to accelerate significantly for at least a few more months.

“Major brands such as Samsung, LG and Huawei have begun to ship their flagship devices for the year, but the market demand going into the second quarter is expected to remain relatively weak as consumers are holding off their purchases in anticipation of the tenth anniversary iPhone devices that will arrive in the third quarter,” TrendForce predicted. “Smartphone sales will be fairly lackluster until the second half of this year. TrendForce estimates that the global smartphone production volume for this second quarter will register a modest single-digit growth versus the preceding three-month period.”