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Gartner: Huawei secures third spot in 2012 global smartphone sales, Samsung remains king

February 13, 2013

We know, we know, you’re sick and tired of hearing how Android keeps crushing iOS around the world. And how Samsung continues to be the undisputed heavyweight champ of the smartphone market.

So how about changing the tune for once and, instead of focusing on the Apple-Samsung duopoly, we’ll talk more about the challengers to the throne? Sounds good? Okay, here goes.

According to the latest Gartner report, Huawei poses the greatest danger for Sammy and Apple’s domination. The Chinese OEM boosted its total yearly smartphone sales with more than 73% in 2012, reaching the 27.2 million mark.


Not too shabby for a manufacturer that’s still mostly regarded as an outsider in the Western world, don’t you think? The 27 million were apparently enough to secure Huawei the third spot among smartphone vendors, although Gartner for some reason neglected to mention the gap between the company and the number four in the ranks. In fact, we don’t even know who that number four was.

What we do know is that, as far as mobile phones on the whole are concerned, Huawei is not the most dangerous Samsung opponent. Instead, it’s Nokia who keeps clinging on to the podium, beating Apple with the help of the Asha feature phone line.


Nokia is therefore second in both yearly and Q4 cell phone sales, followed by Apple and… ZTE. The other Chinese company sniffing for glory apparently sold 67 million handhelds in 2012 and 16 in the final quarter, which is significantly behind Apple’s numbers (130 and 43 million).

LG also narrowly beat Huawei in mobile phone sales, with 15 million in Q4 and 58 for the entire year (vs. 14 and 47 for Huawei). Wrapping up the top ten, we have TCL (aka Alcatel), Lenovo, Sony and Motorola in Q4 2012 and TCL, RIM, Moto and HTC across the entire year.

But now, with the risk of enraging a few closeted Apple fanboys, we have to give (some) credit where credit is due. Android’s Q4 market share has risen with 18 full points from the final quarter of 2011 (69.7%, up from 51.3%).


That translates into no less than 144 million smartphones sold in three months, which is more than three times what Apple has to brag about (43 million, or a 20.9% share). RIM was the distant number three in the ranks, with sales of 7 million and a 3.5% share, while Microsoft’s Windows Phone very narrowly missed the OS podium (6 million smartphones sold, or 3% market share).

Meanwhile, Samsung comfortably won the mobile phone vendor competition, with 384 million units sold in 2012 and 106 million in Q4 (including “dumb” devices). What can we say, it’s good to be Android, it’s good to be Sammy and it might soon be darn good to be Huawei and/or ZTE. Any other thoughts?