Huawei smartphone shipments fell by more than 40% after being hit by US sanctions, according to researchers

Huawei smartphone shipments fell by more than 40% after being hit by US sanctions, according to researchers
People wearing protective face masks walk next to a Huawei advertisement and an Apple store in Shanghai.Aly Song/Reuters
  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei smartphone shipments fell more than 40% in Q4, according to IDC.
  • The Chinese company dropped to the world's sixth biggest smartphone shipper, said Counterpoint.
  • Apple climbed to the top spot with more than 90 million iPhone shipments, according to IDC.

With US sanctions pressuring sales, Huawei smartphone shipments slipped more than 40% in the holiday quarter, according to data from two research firms.

Huawei's worldwide shipments fell to 32.3 million phones, from 56.2 million in the same year-earlier quarter, according to IDC. Its market share slipped to 8%, down from 14% a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research.

The drop placed Huawei as the sixth-largest smartphone shipper, behind rivals that included Apple and Samsung. Early last year, Huawei had been the global leader.

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The US last February accused Huawei of spying on customers through device "back doors," which had been designed for use by law enforcement. Huawei has repeatedly denied spying for China. President Donald Trump's administration put sanctions in place, including barring suppliers from Huawei from accessing foreign-made chips featuring US tech.

Read more: The inventor of 5G predicts the technology will doom Silicon Valley and catapult China. Here's the roadmap Amazon, Microsoft, and Google must follow to stay ahead.


President Joe Biden's administration said it would continue putting pressure on Chinese tech companies, including Huawei.

"Let us be clear: Telecommunications equipment made by untrusted vendors, including Huawei, is a threat to the security of the U.S. and our allies," said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, at a briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

She said Biden's team planned to make investments "to expand the production of telecommunications equipment by trusted US and allied companies."

Biden's pick for commerce secretary, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, hasn't said whether she'll keep Huawei blacklisted, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Senator Ben Sasse said the company hasn't changed just because a new president has taken office.


Sasse said in a statement: "This is ridiculous: Huawei didn't change because America has a new President. Huawei is still the Chinese Communist Party's tech puppet and a serious threat to national security. Tough talk on China is empty if you let Huawei out of the box."

Even with Huawei's drop, global smartphone shipments increased in the the holiday quarter.

"The majority of the world is either in some form of lockdown or still waiting to return to normal day-to-day life, yet smartphone sales are rebounding as though nothing ever happened," said Ryan Reith, program vice president at IDC, in a statement.

Apple and Samsung climbed to the number one and two spots of the biggest shippers, according to IDC.

"Both companies successfully capitalized on declining Huawei shipments, growing 32.0% and 10.7% year over year respectively, by focusing on aggressive product portfolios and building partnerships," IDC researchers wrote in a Wednesday statement.


Apple led the pack with 90.1 million iPhone shipments. The company's market share to about 23.4%, according to IDC.

"The pent-up demand for a new 5G iPhone, strong carrier promotions, especially in the US, and the iPhone 11's longevity are some of the reasons for this growth," according to Counterpoint.