IDC: Device Makers Sold Record 1.4 Billion Smart Phones in 2015

IDC: Device Makers Sold Record 1.4 Billion Smart Phones in 2015
Top 5 smart phone maker unit shipments 2011-2015. Source: IDC

The market researchers at IDC claim that device makers sold 1.4 billion smart phones in 2015, a record. And sales were stronger than expected in the final quarter of the year, with nearly 400 million units sold.

For the first time, the big news in this market was China-based Huawei, which is the third-biggest smart phone maker, and not Samsung or Apple, which are respectively the world’s two biggest makers of these devices.

“Huawei’s strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand,” IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau says in a prepared statement. “While there is a lot of uncertainty around the economic slowdown in China, Huawei is one of the few brands from China that has successfully diversified worldwide, with almost half of its shipments going outside of China. Huawei is poised to be in a good position to hold onto a strong number 3 over the next year.”

Little has changed at the top, however: Both Samsung and Apple retained their relative position, with Samsung posting big gains in the fourth quarter and Apple faring better over the course of 2015.

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By the end of 2015, Samsung had sold 325 million smart phones, good for 23 percent of the market, a gain of 2.1 percent year over year. Apple sold 231.5 million iPhones in 2015, and sits at 16 percent of the market, a gain of 20 percent.

But Apple’s growth in 2015 falls short of that of the rest of the top five in worldwide smart phone sales. Number three Huawei grew an incredible 44.3 percent in 2015, and shipped 107 million devices. Lenovo and Xiaomi, two other China-based firms, saw smart phone sales jump 24.5 and 22.8 percent in 2015, respectively.

Overall, smart phone sales in 2015 were up over 10 percent, with hardware makers selling 1.3 billion handsets in 2014. For the fourth quarter, sales jump almost 6 percent: Device makers had sold 378 million smart phones in Q4 2014.


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Paul Thurrott is an award-winning technology journalist and blogger with over 20 years of industry experience and the author of over 25 books. He is the News Director for the Petri IT Knowledgebase, the major domo at, and the co-host of three tech podcasts: Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley, What the Tech with Andrew Zarian, and First Ring Daily with Brad Sams. He was formerly the senior technology analyst at Windows IT Pro and the creator of the SuperSite for Windows.
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