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Samsung takes back smartphone market share from Apple in South Korea

Samsung has reclaimed some of its lost smartphone market share from Apple in South Korea during the first quarter of 2021, thanks to the Galaxy S21 series being launched earlier than usual.
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Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributor on

Samsung controlled 67% of South Korea's smartphone market during the first quarter of 2021, according to analyst firm Counterpoint Research on Wednesday.

The 67 percentage points are a 3 point increase from the 64% during the same period last year, and a 9 percentage point jump from the previous quarter's 58%.

Samsung had consistently held over 60% market share in its home country throughout the years, but it lost ground to Apple during the fourth quarter of 2020 due to the launch of the iPhone 12. Cupertino controlled a market share of 31% during that quarter, an unusually strong performance from the company in South Korea thanks to the iPhone 12's popularity.

Counterpoint attributed Samsung's increased market share in the first quarter to its earlier than usual launch of the Galaxy S21 series, the models' competitive prices, and the company's various promotion activities with local telcos.

Apple, meanwhile, recorded a market share of 22% during the quarter. LG, which is planning to end its smartphone operation by July, held a market share of 10% in the same time period, only a slight dip from the 11% of the previous quarter.

According to Counterpoint, Samsung's Galaxy S21 5G smartphone was the most popular model in South Korea during the first quarter. This was followed by the tech giant's Galaxy A31 and Apple's iPhone 12 Pro. Overall, seven out of the top 10 selling phones during the quarter were those by Samsung. The remaining three were iPhones from Apple.

Meanwhile, South Korea's total smartphones sales in the first quarter increased 21% from the year prior, the analyst firm said. However, Counterpoint noted that sales in the second quarter are expected to contract due to the lack of new models and LG's exit from the smartphones market.

In May, Samsung and Apple launched their respective trade-in programs for LG smartphones in South Korea to secure market share from LG's exit. 

Samsung is expected to unveil its new foldable phones and a new Galaxy Watch in August.

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