By Jiahui Huang and Ben Otto

Apple's global smartphone shipments hit the skids in the first quarter, toppling the tech giant from its top position globally and raising concerns about a crucial business line amid rising competition from Chinese rivals.

Apple's iPhone shipments fell 9.6% on year to 50.1 million units in the first quarter, according to preliminary data from research firm International Data Corporation late Sunday.

Samsung's shipments fell 0.7% to 60.1 million units, enough for the South Korean company to reclaim its status as the number one seller of smartphones worldwide, IDC said in its quarterly tracking of smartphone shipments. Apple had overtaken Samsung in the fourth quarter.

Apple's market share fell to 17.3% from 20.7% a year ago, while Samsung's fell to 20.8% from 22.5%.

The declines in the two companies' market share come even as total shipments of the top five makers of smartphones expanded for the third straight quarter, rising 7.8% on year to 289.4 million units, as Chinese companies Xiaomi and Transsion took bigger slices of the pie, IDC said.

Xiaomi, the third largest smartphone shipper in the quarter, saw sales rise almost 34% on year to 40.8 million units, while Transsion shipments jumped 85% to 28.5 million. Oppo overtook Vivo to claim the fifth spot in the first quarter.

IDC said overall growth showed that the smartphone market's recovery "is well underway" despite challenging macroeconomic conditions, and highlighted a trend of higher prices as consumers opt for more expensive smartphones knowing they will hold on to their devices longer.

Apple's slip in rankings comes after it claimed the top spot in global shipments in the final quarter of 2023, when it was helped by the rising popularity of premium devices and the company's aggressive trade-in offers and interest-free financing plans.

The Cupertino, California-based company saw its iPhone business grow nearly 6% on year in the October-to-December quarter, beating analysts' expectations with $69.70 billion in sales. Smartphone sales accounted for more than half of total revenue in the quarter.

Write to Jiahui Huang at and Ben Otto at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-15-24 0617ET