Realme’s the only winner in a declining European smartphone market

Smartphone shipments are on the decline in almost every region of the world, but one especially hard-hit market is Europe, as the latest report from Counterpoint Research reveals in detail.

European smartphone shipments hit lowest in almost a decade

Between January and March, smartphone shipments across the European continent declined a massive 12% versus twelve months earlier. The result marks the lowest Q1 shipments in almost a decade… Ouch.The weak results are the result of what can only be described as the perfect time. On the one hand, we have the component shortages that have been dominating headlines since 2020 coupled with recent COVID-19 lockdowns in China that have further constrained supply. On the other hand, we have the deteriorating economic situation in Europe and around the world that has only worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to a cost-of-living crisis backed by soaring inflation.Of course, the decision by virtually every major company to withdraw from Russia in March has also played a significant role. The market was previously Europe’s largest, with Samsung and Apple accounting for half of all shipments and their combined Russian sales equating to 6% of all European shipments.

Despite the challenges, Samsung remains the ruler of Europe

Breaking down the quarterly results by brand, Samsung successfully retained its position as Europe’s leading smartphone seller. The South Korean company achieved a market share of 35% in Q1 2022.

That’s down a little from the 37% share it captured a year earlier, but Samsung’s results are impressive, nonetheless. Especially when you consider the fact that it sold 16% fewer smartphones in Q1 2022 than it did in Q1 2021.

The first quarter was a busy one for Samsung, with countless new launches including the arrival of the Galaxy S21 FE in January, the Galaxy S22 launch in February, and the debut of new Galaxy A-series models in March. These releases weren’t enough to offset all the external factors mentioned above, though.

Apple’s shipments fell, but its market share increased

Like Samsung, Apple faced a decline in shipments despite launching a new device — the affordable iPhone SE (2022) — and a couple of new colors for its flagship range — Green for the iPhone 13 and Alpine Green for the iPhone 13 Pro.In Apple’s case, however, sales fell less than the market average, therefore boosting its market from 24% to 25%. That’s enough to maintain a solid second place ahead of Xiaomi. It also reduces the gap with Samsung to 10%.

Xiaomi was the biggest loser

A year ago, we were talking about how Xiaomi could be the next Samsung — it briefly overtook the latter to become the world’s largest smartphone brand in June 2021 — but that talk was short-lived. 

Xiaomi has so far been unable to avoid severe component shortages, leading to a whopping 36% decline in shipments across Europe in the first three months of the year, wiping 5 percentage points off its market share in the process. It retained its position as Europe’s third-largest brand, but Oppo is now much closer than before. Speaking of which, Oppo experienced an 8% drop in shipments but remained stable in terms of the market share at 6%.

Realme was the biggest winner

Rounding out the top 5 was Realme, which seems to have taken the European market by storm in recent years. It defied the odds to increase shipments by a seriously impressive 67% year-on-year, doubling its market share in the process to 4%.

The only brands to experience faster growth in Europe last quarter were HMD Global (the brand behind Nokia) and Google, though both ship much smaller quantities of smartphones.

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