#Top 10

Top 10 Mobile Brands

Mobile World takes a look at the 10 most impactful brands in the mobile space.

Harry Menear
|Jun 22|magazine9 min read

“An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator,” said Steve Jobs, standing on a plain black stage at the 2007 Macworld conference. “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.” Although technically the title of first smartphone is held by the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, which hit the market as early as November 1992, the first generation iPhone is commonly held up as the flashpoint for the smartphone age. While it looks rudimentary in comparison with today’s flagship devices (it only had a 2-megapixel camera, a 3.5 inch screen and a mere 128MB of DRAM) the iPhone laid the foundations for almost every successive generation of smartphone. Along with Alexander Graham Bell’s (or Antonio Meucci, if you believe his patent claim) telephone and ARPANET, the smartphone is unquestionably one of the most impactful inventions of the past hundred years.

From personal finance and ERP applications to gaming and social media, the modern smartphone is capable of routinely performing tasks that would have been out of reach for the average personal computer even a decade ago. As users’ digital presences become increasingly integrated, and IoT further interconnects everything from smart home appliances to vehicles, the smartphone is becoming more and more of a universal remote control. The physical limitations that a cell phone’s size places on capabilities like processing power and storage are also being overcome by the integration of cloud technologies. This has the potential to particularly impact the gaming space, as companies like Google Stadia and Vortex allow users to access the power of next-generation entertainment consoles through their mobile connections.

Today, almost 4bn people use a smartphone on a daily basis. The global smartphone market was valued at just under US$715bn last year, and is expected to exceed $1.3trn by 2025. While the global COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause smartphone sales to decline by about 2.3% this year, (according to Gartner, global smartphone sales fell by a full 20% in the first quarter of 2020) a global trend of accelerated launches for new devices, innovations like the foldable touchscreen, and the ongoing launch of 5G are expected to accelerate growth beyond 6% in 2021.

Pitched firmly at the premium band of mobile devices, and limited exclusively to Apple manufactured products, the iOS operating system maintains an approximate market share of around 25%. Currently, Apple iOS is seeing heaviest penetration in wealthier markets. In the UK, for example, iOS has captured about 50% of the market share.

However, the majority of cell phones around the world are powered by Google’s Android operating system, which accounted for approximately 72% of the market at the end of 2019. The remaining market share is divided more or less evenly between Samsung (although the Korean tech giant primarily runs Android on its devices), KaiOS, Windows and Series 40. By 2022, Android is predicted to accumulate even more of the global market share of devices, reaching 87% adoption.

Over the 13 years since Jobs unveiled the original iPhone, smartphone manufacturers have become some of the premier consumer technology companies around the world. Currently, the smartphone market is experiencing something of a mid-range drought. Incredibly high-tech 5G, foldable, cloud-integrated devices are coming out at the upper end of the market, and the last few years have seen budget smartphones make dramatic leaps in quality, but there’s still a disconnect between these two market extremes. Also, some of the world’s biggest mobile manufacturers have had their efforts hampered by more than COVID-19. Sony exited multiple smartphone markets in 2019, and Huawei continues to find itself hobbled by trade disputes and government sanctions. Is the industry on the verge of a serious shake up? Or will the next decade see top players like Apple and Samsung consolidate their grip on the lion’s share of the market. From established titans to unexpected challengers, in this article, Mobile World breaks down the top 10 mobile brands from around the world, as of this year.