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Samsung displaces Apple, tops smartphone market

Samsung is once again at the top of the global smartphone market.

The South Korean electronics-maker surpassed Apple to become the number 1 smartphone company in terms of worldwide shipments, according to the International Data Corporation, coming after Apple previously claimed the top spot.

Samsung accounted for 20.8% of the global market in the first quarter of 2024, while Apple claimed 17.3%, the report says.

Apple and Samsung have been vying for mobile dominance since the smartphone’s early days, and each of the two companies typically ships more devices than their competitors.

But the IDC’s new findings are particularly noteworthy because Apple previously stole the number 1 position from Samsung last year, marking the first time the Galaxy phone-maker wasn’t at the top of the market since 2010, according to IDC.

Samsung and Apple are likely to stay at the top, the IDC report notes, but it also points to the expansion of brands that aren’t well-known in the US, such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Transsion, Oppo, OnePlus and Vivo. Some of these companies have already released compelling new phones in 2024, such as the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which my colleague Andrew Lanxon called the best camera phone he’s ever used.

As these other brands gain traction, Samsung and Apple may be pushed to “expand” and “diversify,” Ryan Reith, group vice president with the IDC’s Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, said in a press release. It’s unclear exactly what that means, but both companies are expected to make major phone-related announcements in the coming months.

Samsung, for example, typically announces new foldable phones and wearables in the late summer. However, leaks such as this report from blog SamMobile suggest the company could announce its new batch of foldables as early as July, similar to last year.

The Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Z Fold have become well-established within Samsung’s smartphone lineup. But rumors also suggest Samsung may be working on new versions of the Z Fold. The company is reportedly developing a high-end version that may be called the Galaxy Z Fold Ultra, according to the blog Galaxy Club, as well as a cheaper model, according to reports from Korean news outlets The Elec and ETNews. The company’s display division has also been flaunting new flexible phone concepts at the CES tech conference in Las Vegas over the past couple of years, raising questions about what’s next.

Apple is expected to announce its new iPhones in September, as it usually does. Reports from Bloomberg and MacRumors suggest the phones will be a modest upgrade over the iPhone 15, with one of the biggest expected changes being the arrival of a dedicated video recording button.

But Apple is expected to introduce significant new software features for the iPhone that are powered by AI, according to Bloomberg. That could be an important part of its effort to keep the iPhone exciting and appealing as Android rivals continue to release new foldable phones.

It would also help the iPhone remain competitive with Android after Samsung and Google have released their own AI-fueled features and services on their popular Galaxy and Pixel lines.

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