Apple has never been No. 1 in smartphone shipments. All eyes are on iPhone 15.


In a dreary smartphone market, Apple Inc. could do something it’s never done before.

The consumer-electronics giant has a chance to finish the year as the global leader in smartphone shipments for the first time, according to analysts at Counterpoint Research.

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Consumers continue to hold on to their smartphones for longer, one reason that the Counterpoint team expects overall shipments to fall 6% this year, to 1.15 billion units. That would be the lowest level in a decade.

“But we’re watching [the fourth quarter] with interest because the iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers,” Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint’s North America research director, said in a release.

With a big base of current iPhone 12 owners due for upgrades, “promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot.”

Counterpoint notes that premium smartphones have been picking up share within the market and called out China as a region where that trend holds true. Apple AAPL, -0.08% focuses on the premium market and is expected to debut its next lineup of devices, the iPhone 15 family, in September, and sales likely will begin later that month or in early October.

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Projections from Counterpoint put Apple the closest its ever been to capturing the top spot. “We’re talking about a spread that’s literally a few days’ worth of sales,” Fieldhack said. “Assuming Apple doesn’t run into production problems like it did last year, it’s really a toss-up at this point.”

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. 005930, +0.45% was the market leader in shipments last year, and it held the top spot in the first quarter of this year.

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