Global smartphone shipments increased 8 per cent year-on-year to 320 million units in Q4 2023, ending seven consecutive quarters of decline as Apple pipped Samsung to the top spot in the annual rankings, Canalys research showed.

In a statement, Canalys senior analyst Toby Zhu explained the smartphone market is heading in the right direction, pointing to improved demand during the holiday selling period and increased variety in mid-to-low range devices. 

Zhu also pointed to a “rebound in demand” in emerging markets including Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East and Africa.

The analyst said vendors are finally able to put more attention on innovation and strategy developments as “inventory pressure” and inflation ease. 

Apple took a 24 per cent market share, ahead of Samsung’s 17 per cent in the fourth quarter. For 2023, Apple overtook Samsung for the first time annually, although both companies shipments rounded to a 20 per cent market share.

Canalys research manager Amber Liu said the iPhone-maker showed resilience in the past two years due to solid demand in the high-end segment, aided by the expanded positioning of the iPhone 15 series, but warned competition in China represents a challenge to sustained growth in the country. 

Xiaomi, Oppo and Transsion garnered 13 per cent, 9 per cent and 8 per cent shares, respectively. 

Zhu also highlighted new Android flagship models benefitting from an “on-device AI trend”, pointing to Google Pixel and “several Chinese vendors”. 

Full year shipments decreased 4 per cent to 1.1 billion units.