Global smartphone shipments second highest level in a quarter: IDC

  • Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 355.2 mln units worldwide in Q3 2015
  • Missed IDC's expectations due to lower than expected iPhone shipments and Android flagships falter

Global smartphone shipments second highest level in a quarter: IDC

SMARTPHONE manufacturers globally achieved the second highest quarter of phone shipments on record, according to preliminary results from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).  

In its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, IDC reported vendors shipped a total of 355.2 mln smartphones worldwide during the third quarter of 2015, up 6.8% from the 332.6 mln units a year ago.

However, the shipment numbers were slightly below IDC's previous forecast of 363.8 million units, largely due to slightly lower than expected iPhone shipments, as well the introduction of new Android smartphones from top-tier players which were priced outside the consumer sweet spot.

In a statement, IDC's programme director for the report, Ryan Reith said, "The vendor landscape and product offerings are really unique at the moment as many markets are seeing consumers become more aware of alternative buying options when it comes to paying for their smartphone."


"In mature and subsidized markets, we now have a wide range of operators offering equipment installation plans (EIP), as well as early trade-in options. At the same time the number of unlocked/off-contract offerings has increased significantly and it's slowly starting to resonate with consumers.

"Within these markets, these moves will put pressure directly on Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with offerings that are greater than $500," he added.

The third quarter, according to IDC's research manager for mobile Phones, Anthony Scarsella, saw a huge emphasis on flagship smartphones being shipped, as manufacturers tried to outdo each other in features and design.

"New flagship models translated to fiercer competition at the high-end for most players as many will try to challenge both Samsung and Apple for a place among the elite," Scarsella said in the statement.

"However, despite the glitz and glamour at the high-end, we still expect the bulk of volume and growth to once again sprout from low to mid-range handsets, particularly in emerging markets," he noted.

Smartphone Vendor Highlights

In the report, IDC noted that Samsung Electronics Co once again was the overall leader with 84.5 million units shipped, up 6.1% from last year.

Samsung remained focused on premium handsets with the launch of two new flagship devices, the Galaxy S6 edge + and Note5. Beating Apple to the punch with an untraditional August launch for the Note series (and new S6 edge +), Samsung saw stronger than normal September shipments as the new iPhone was yet to be released.

Outside of the key flagship models, sub-$200 devices (Galaxy Core/Grand Prime, J-Series) drove a majority of shipments in many key emerging markets.

Meanwhile, Apple Inc's newest iPhones helped to drive third quarter shipments of 48 million units, up 22.2% from the 39.3 million units last year. With a record-breaking 13 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units shipped during launch week, the two new models continue to capture upgraders and Android converts alike in many key markets such as China and the United States.

The arrival of the new "S" models brings a new Rose gold color to the table along with Force Touch, improved camera, and a faster processor. Older iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus models also sold vigorously during the quarter thanks to recent price cuts across all models.

IDC's report noted that Apple's recently launched upgrade plan should also help drive handset upgrades in developed markets where smartphone saturation continues to increase.

Huawei Technologies Co shipped 26.5 million units, up an impressive 60.9% from last year. The Chinese telecommunications giant once again, focused its efforts on the mid-to-high range as nearly a third of the quarterly shipments were in this price range.

According to the company, devices like the Honor 6 Plus and Ascend P8 helped grow the mid-to-high range 25% from last year, but IDC believes that despite the rapid growth in China and Europe, Huawei will need to focus on the United States where its presence remains relatively low.


The recent launch of the new premium Nexus 6P device could signal that Huawei is finally ready to seriously compete in the U.S.

Lenovo Group continued to fight its way to the top of the smartphone market with help from its acquired assets in Motorola. In the third quarter, combined shipments of Lenovo and Motorola-branded smartphones reached 18.8 million, which was up 11.1% from a year ago.

Lenovo-branded smartphones have predominantly been a China play, although recently growth has taken off in Middle East & Africa, as well as Central & Eastern Europe. Motorola's strong markets continue to be North America and Latin America, where its variants of Moto X, G, and E hit on attractive price tiers.

Chinese upstart Xiaomi Corp shipped 18.3 million smartphones in Q3 2015, bringing its 2015 total to 52.1 million. While the company continues its pursuit of branching off into Southeast Asia, India, and Brazil, China still remains the sweet spot for the company.

Within China, Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 2, Redmi 2A Prime, as well as the Mi 4c in the third quarter. The Redmi Note 2 was the most popular model among Chinese consumers and drove volumes through Xiaomi's retail location known as the Mi Home.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, Market Share and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2015 Preliminary Data (Units in Millions) 


3Q15 Shipment Volumes

3Q15 Market Share

3Q14 Shipment Volumes

3Q14 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Change












































Lenovo + Motorola






Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, October 28, 2015 (preliminary results)

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