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European smartphone market rebounds in Q1 2021  

The European smartphone market appears to be on the road to recovery after a difficult 2020. An improving COVID-19 outlook compared to this time last year (the end of Q1 2020 marked the beginning of a major downturn for the smartphone market as the pandemic started to take its toll), helped European smartphone sales grow by 6% annually in Q1 2021. However, ongoing COVID-19 challenges across the region means the market is still down slightly on 2019 levels.

The market was also helped by new device launches from most major vendors, who continue to fight for market share vacated by Huawei.

Samsung was the main winner of the quarter, having regained the top spot from Apple (although Apple is still the clear leader in France, Germany and the UK). Xiaomi’s performance was equally impressive, particular in Southern Europe. In March, Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor in Spain, and it grabbed the number two spot in Italy at the expense of Apple. Xiaomi now accounts for a fifth of smartphone sales in Europe, almost triple its market share 18 months ago.

Counterpoint Research’s Associate Director, Jan Stryjak said, “Q1 2021 was a prime example of the intensely competitive nature of the European smartphone market. January saw Apple as the clear leader following its most successful device launch ever; Samsung rebounded in February on the back of strong sales of its latest flagship Galaxy S21 series and popular Galaxy A series; and then Xiaomi reached its highest market share in Europe ever in March thanks to the launch of its own flagship Mi11 devices. OPPO, OnePlus, realme and vivo also continue to grow strongly, with most having launched new devices in the quarter.”

As predicted, it’s going to be an fascinating year. Research Director, Peter Richardson said, “The strong momentum in Q4 2020 carried over to 2021, and an improving COVID-19 situation thanks to accelerating vaccination programmes will lay the foundation for a full year recovery. The growing market will also see increased competition among vendors: Samsung and Apple both improved on their market share in Q1 2021, and their leadership positions will come under renewed challenge by a host of Chinese entrants, led by a fast-moving Xiaomi, which reached 20% market share for the first time in March. Meanwhile, OPPO and vivo are hoping their to-and-fro battle for leadership in their home market of China can lead to increased momentum in Europe too.”
CT Bureau

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