Add “a miraculous Huawei resurrection at Samsung’s expense” to the list of things industry watchers weren’t expecting to see in 2020. New market data suggests Huawei at the very least pulled level with Samsung in terms of global smartphone shipments in the second quarter of the year. It likely even surpassed it, seizing the title of the world’s largest handset manufacturer for the first time ever. More specifically, Huawei is estimated to have shipped 55.8 million smartphones from April to June, toppling Samsung by over two million units.
While this shift in market dynamics isn’t expected to last, it also wasn’t anticipated to materialize in the first place, at least not to this degree. Particularly when you realize Huawei’s latest achievement can largely be attributed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Huawei’s fortunes are only thanks to its home country of China
Don’t forget Huawei still has a giant target on its back, courtesy of the U.S. Samsung actually stands to heavily profit from Washington’s continued sanctions on Huawei, but given how China was the first to end up in this COVID-19 mess, it’s also the first to experience some short-term recovery effects in between outbreaks, Canalys analysts explain. That is, Huawei’s Q2 insurgence seems to be fueled by China’s overall nationwide rebound from its last coronavirus crisis, and Samsung should go through a similar event cycle.
Which isn’t to say Samsung can be happy with this news, especially as Huawei’s Q2 2020 performance is still below its 2019 levels. Making matters even worse is the fact that an almost identical phenomenon occurred last month, with the only difference being that it affected the smartwatch market. Naturally, both milestones primarily underline the sheer size of China instead of some specific business ingenuity on Huawei’s part. After all, with TSMC being set to stop all shipments to Huawei this September, the company might just have to throw in the towel or try its luck with selling heavily outdated smartphones moving forward.