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Apple Overhauls Samsung, Emerges as Top Phone Maker of 2023

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro place side by side
Samsung smartphone and an iPhone | Jack Skeens/Shutterstock

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple Inc. has emerged as the undisputed leader in the smartphone industry, toppling Samsung Electronics Co. from its long-held position.

Market research firm IDC's latest report reveals that Apple achieved an all-time high market share of 20.1 per cent in 2023, marking a significant 3.7 per cent growth over the previous year. 


This milestone positions Apple at the pinnacle of smartphone manufacturers, securing the number one spot annually for the first time in its history.

Apple Soaring Market Share: A Testament to Premium Appeal

The surge in Apple's market share is particularly noteworthy, considering the company's traditional positioning in the mid-to-premium phone space.


Generally not known for topping sales charts due to the higher average iPhone purchase cost, Apple has defied expectations by clinching the lead.


Samsung, Apple's closest competitor, has experienced a 13.6 percent decline, landing at a 19.4 percent market share. 


This shift emphasizes Apple's resilience and success, which are driven by the increasing trend of premium devices, which now constitute over 20% of the market.

Unraveling the Numbers: Average Sell Price and Model Sales

Looking into the numbers further, Apple's victory becomes even more impressive when considering the average sell price (ASP).


The IDC reports that the average Android phone costs $250, while the average iPhone commands a higher price at $949.


Apple's best-selling phone in 2023, the $1,100 iPhone 14 Pro Max, takes the coveted title of the world's best-selling phone model. 


This achievement demonstrates Apple's ability to dominate the market with high-end devices. This contrasts the strategy of most Android manufacturers who focus on selling cheaper and mid-range phones.


Smartphone companies market share table 2023
Top 5 smartphone companies market share table 2023 | IDC


Apple's ascendancy to the top of the smartphone market is a remarkable turnaround from its fourth-place position in 2020, lagging behind Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi.


The IDC's Nabila Popal attributes Apple's ongoing success to the increasing popularity of premium devices, driven by aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans. 


This strategic shift in consumer preferences has propelled Apple to the forefront of the industry, highlighting the company's adaptability and market acumen.

A Global Triumph: Apple Outpaces Samsung on a Global Scale

Apple's iPhone series captured a fifth of the global market in 2023, shipping around 235 million units. This exceeded Samsung's shipment of 226.6 million, marking the first time since 2010 that Samsung conceded the top spot.


Apple's triumph over a full year, not just in the holiday quarter, signifies a sustained dominance, suggesting that the company is navigating the industrywide slump more effectively than its competitors.


The change in ranking comes at the end of a challenging year for the smartphone industry, marked by a slowdown in consumer upgrades and a preference for cheaper handsets due to economic uncertainties and high inflation. 


Despite a 3.2% decline in the overall market to 1.17 billion units, Apple and Transsion emerged as the only two of the top five smartphone vendors to record sales growth.

The Chinese Market Dynamics

While Apple faces pressure in China from resurgent competitors like Huawei and budget Chinese brands, its strategic moves, such as offering discounts of up to 5% on certain models, demonstrate the company's commitment to maintaining a strong foothold in the Chinese market.


The dance between premium appeal and competitive pricing will continue to shape Apple's trajectory in the world's largest smartphone market.