China’s tech giant Huawei has surpassed other smartphone companies in global shipments, for the first time in nine years.

A statement by Canalys – a global tech market analysis firm – said Huawei shipped more smartphones worldwide than any other vendor for the first time in the second quarter of 2020 – from April to June.

“It marks the first quarter in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple has led the market,” said the firm.

It said Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices, down 5% year-on-year. “But second-placed Samsung shipped 53.7 million smartphones, a 30% fall against Q2 [quarter second] 2019.”

Huawei superseding top smartphone companies comes at a time when the Chinese tech giant is facing pressure and restrictions from the US and its allies.

The Canalys noted that US restrictions have “stifled its [Huawei] business outside of mainland China”.

“Its overseas shipments fell 27% in Q2 [second] quarter. But it has grown to dominate its domestic market, boosting its Chinese shipments by 8% in Q2, and it now sells over 70% of its smartphones in mainland China,” the statement said.

“This is a remarkable result that few people would have predicted a year ago,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Ben Stanton.

“If it wasn’t for COVID-19, it wouldn’t have happened. Huawei has taken full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business. Samsung has a very small presence in China, with less than 1% market share, and has seen its core markets, such as Brazil, India, the United States and Europe, ravaged by outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns.”

Early this month, the US imposed visa restrictions on certain employees of Huawei tech company over the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Xinjiang, northwest China.

UK also announced to “push out” Huawei out of its 5G network by 2027.

However, Canalys Analyst Mo Jia said: “Taking first place is very important for Huawei.”

“It is desperate to showcase its brand strength to domestic consumers, component suppliers and developers. It needs to convince them to invest, and will broadcast the message of its success far and wide in the coming months. But it will be hard for Huawei to maintain its lead in the long term.

“Its major channel partners in key regions, such as Europe, are increasingly wary of ranging Huawei devices, taking on fewer models, and bringing in new brands to reduce risk. Strength in China alone will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover,” he added.

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