Over one billion smartphones shipped in 2013

More than one billion smartphones (1,004.2 million) were shipped globally in 2013, a new record and a 38% increase over the 725.4 million handsets delivered in 2012, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

IDC had forecast 1,010.4 million smartphones, making for a difference of less than one percent. Of all the mobile shipments in 2013, smartphones accounted for 55.1% in 2013, compared to 41.7% the year before.

In Q4 2013, a total of 284.4 million smartphones were delivered globally, 24.2% more than in Q4 2012 when 229 million units were shipped.

A total of 1,821.8 million mobile phones, including smartphones, were shipped worldwide in 2013, an increase of 4.8% compared to 1,738.1 units delivered in 2012. Just in the fourth quarter of 2013 a total of 488.4 handsets were shipped globally, compared to 484 million in the same quarter a year earlier. IDC had forecast 502.4 units for Q4 2013.

From under 500 million to over one billion smartphones in two years

Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team, said:

“The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone’s continued popularity in 2013.”

“Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones.”

Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said:

“Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost. Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker.”

“Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume.”

“Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.”

Below are some highlighted data regarding smartphone sales from the IDC report:


For the second successive year, Samsung ended 2013 as the clear leader in global smartphone shipments. Despite strong demand for its Galaxy S III, Note models, and its extensive range of middle-market and entry-level models, the company sold less in Q4 2013 than in the previous quarter.

Even so, Samsung managed to maintain “sizable double-digit lead over the next vendor.”


Apple reported record shipment volume in the fourth quarter of 2013, by the addition of several countries where the iPhone 5S and 5C became available, and sustained demand from its core markets. However, the company had the lowest year-on-year increase of all the leading smartphone makers. Apple warned investors that this current quarter may be lighter than previous forecasts.

IDC commented “Now that Apple has finally arrived at China Mobile, it remains to be seen how much Apple will close the gap against Samsung in 2014.”


Huawai ended 2013 in the number 3 position worldwide, the same position as in 2012. The company reported the highest year-on-year increase in sales among the leading smartphone vendors. It also enhanced its brand profile with a higher proportion of proprietary units compared to the ODM work it had done with other companies.

Despite a very successful year, IDC authors wrote “Huawei faces a crowded group of potential competitors within striking distance.”


Lenovo finished Q4 2013 in the number four position worldwide, even though it has no presence in Western Europe or North America. Lenovo has a strong presence in key emerging markets and has a wide range of products, including affordable smartphones to full-featured 5-inch screen models.

IDC authors believe Lenovo could challenge Huawei for the number 3 spot if it manages to penetrate the Western European and North American markets this year.


LG took the number 5 position, edging out ZTE. Just five million units separate fifth and sixth places. As far as year-on-year growth is concerned, LG is on par with Lenovo and Huawei.

LG’s has a wider portfolio than twelve months ago, with more large-screen and high-end models today, including its Optimus G series and Nexus 5.