Grim forecast for Huawei’s global smartphone rankings

Read time 2min 50sec
The Huawei P Smart S 2020.
The Huawei P Smart S 2020.

Technology giant Huawei is expected to slip from being among the top three global smartphone brands in 2020 to seventh place in 2021.

This is based on latest forecasts from TrendForce, which cites the effects of the US export restrictions and the spin-off of Honor as a separate entity operating in the smartphone market as influential factors for the shift.

Huawei, which has enjoyed global smartphone growth, has been facing pressure following restrictions imposed by the US, after the US Department of Commerce put Huawei on an export blacklist, citing “national security threats” due to its close ties to the Chinese government.

However, Huawei has vehemently denied these allegations.

TrendForce says: “Huawei is currently projected to tumble from third place in 2020 to seventh place in 2021. The top six for 2021, in order, will be Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, and Transsion. Together, they will account for almost 80% of the global smartphone market.”

The market analyst firm concedes the COVID-19 pandemic will remain the central variable, or the biggest uncertainty, in the production projection because it will continue to exert significant influence on the global economy.

“Besides the pandemic, the performance of smartphone brands during 2021 could also be affected by geopolitical instabilities and the lack of available production capacity in the semiconductor foundry market.”

TrendForce’s latest investigations further show that global smartphone production reached a mere 1.25 billion units in 2020, a record-breaking 11% year-on-year decline.

The firm points out that the top six smartphone brands ranked by production volume for 2020, in order, are Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo.

In addition, with the new Honor seeking to ramp up production, Huawei will have more difficulty in regaining market share for smartphones.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, TrendForce believes that the global smartphone market will gradually recover as people become accustomed to the “new normal” resulting from the pandemic. Moreover, this year will likely see a relatively strong wave of device replacement demand as well as demand growth in the emerging markets.

“Assuming that these conditions will materialise, the annual global smartphone production for 2021 is forecasted to increase by 9% to 1.36 billion units.”

On the penetration rate of 5G smartphones, the firm notes that this is likely to rise to 37% in 2021, while production will still be constrained by limited foundry capacities.

Thanks to the Chinese government’s aggressive push for 5G commercialisation in 2020, global 5G smartphone production for the year reached about 240 million units, a 19% penetration rate, with Chinese brands accounting for almost a 60% market share.

“While 5G will remain a major topic in the smartphone market this year, various countries will also resume their 5G infrastructure build-out, and mobile processor manufacturers will continue to release entry-level and mid-range 5G chips.

“As such, the penetration rate of 5G smartphones is expected to undergo a rapid increase to 37% in 2021, for a yearly production of about 500 million units.”

TrendForce concludes that, under the optimistic assumption that the pandemic can be resolved within the year, shipment for various end-products, including servers, smartphones, and notebook computers will undergo a year-on -year increase compared to 2020. 

See also