The iPhone vs. Android debate typically involves which platform is better than the other. Each platform has its pros and cons, and people can choose whichever works for them. However, besides the who is better debate, how do the two platforms compare in sales numbers?
Does Apple sell more iPhones than Android phones, or is it vice versa? This article will get you acquainted with all the nitty-gritty.
How Many Smartphones Were Sold in 2021?
Individually, smartphone companies never reveal their total sales figures. For example, Apple stopped disclosing sales figures in 2018. Thankfully, analytics companies exist that do the heavy lifting for everyone to provide inside information on the industry’s performance.
In 2021, Counterpoint Research pegged the total number of global smartphone sales at 1.39 billion units. IDC pegged that number slightly lower at 1.35 billion, representing a 5.7% increase from 2020, while Gartner’s estimate came a bit higher; over 1.43 billion, a 6.0% increase from the year prior.
While the estimates slightly vary, one thing is constant: South Korean tech juggernaut Samsung led the rest with over 270 million smartphones sold during the year, followed by Apple with over 235 million.
In the US market, Gartner told MUO that companies sold 153.27 million smartphones in 2021. Although the research company didn’t provide a breakdown of the figures per company, if data by other companies is anything to go by, Apple dominated the market, accounting for at least half the total sales.
Apple’s iPhone Sales vs. Android Manufacturers
The race between Apple and Android manufacturers has been relatively consistent for the last five years. From 2017 and 2021, Apple barely hit 20% of the global smartphone market in annual sales, according to research data.
Starting in 2017, Gartner estimates that Apple shipped 214.92 million units, a 14% market share. However, 2018 saw global smartphone sales decline, and so did Apple’s to 209.05 million, with the company’s market share dropping to 13.4%.
In 2019, the company’s smartphone sales tanked again, dropping to 193.48 million with a market share of 12.6%. That same year, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the second best-selling smartphone manufacturer.
Apple’s shipments surprisingly grew in 2020, becoming one of the only two top vendors (besides Xiaomi) to experience growth during the pandemic-ridden year filled with lockdowns, a global economic crisis, supply chain issues, and less demand for non-essential goods.
According to Gartner, Apple’s sales grew by 3.3% to 199.85 million. Compared to total sales, mainly dominated by Android manufacturers, Apple’s sales numbers accounted for just 14.8% of the 1.35 billion smartphones sold and reclaimed its second spot.
Apple retained its position as the second-largest smartphone vendor globally in 2021. However, despite its massive sales figures, the company doesn’t stand a chance against the countless Android manufacturers combined. According to Gartner, Apple shipped 235.70 million iPhones in 2021, while Android manufacturers shipped over 1 billion units.
However, in the US market, the story has been day and night compared to the global market. Apple rules the US market and has consistently accounted for nearly half, if not slightly over half, of the total sales quarter to quarter in 2021. According to Counterpoint Research’s quarterly market share data dated August 2022, Apple consistently dominated the market from Q1 2021 to Q2 2022.
Apple has grown its US market share from 33% in Q1 2017 to 48% by the end of Q2 2022, although that’s lower than the impressive 65% recorded in Q4 2020, data from Counterpoint Research shows. From the data, Apple sold more iPhones in 2021 than all the Android manufacturers combined.
Can Apple Sell More Smartphones Than Android Vendors?
It’s hard to imagine if Apple will ever dominate the smartphone market globally, considering the number of companies using Google’s Android OS on their smartphones.
What makes Android’s market dominance even hard to beat is that, unlike iPhones, Android manufacturers offer a wide range of phones at varying price points. Android always has an option, no matter how much you wish to spend on a smartphone.
Many may wish to own an iPhone, but they don’t come cheap. Sure enough, Apple sells more iPhones in developed markets like China, Japan, and the US and fewer in developing economies.
For someone considering buying the iPhone 13 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, it mainly boils down to preferences, not money. But if you have a $200 budget and you’re looking for a new phone, you won’t be considering an iPhone unless you buy from a carrier through partial payments or buy a used iPhone.
Android Is the King of Sales
From the market data, Apple barely hits 20% of the total sales relative to Android manufacturers. The company’s devices might last longer, work seamlessly with each other and get longer support, but when it comes to sales figures, Android is king.
It’s hard for Apple to compete against all these various smartphone manufacturers that release multiple flagships in a year at compelling price points. Unless Apple changes its pricing strategy, global domination seems far-fetched.