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The World’s Best Selling Smartphones of 2021 – Who Dominated?

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We’re already a few months into 2022, and it’s looking to be an exciting year for smartphones. Apple started the year off strong with the new iPhone SE, a powerful phone at their cheapest price point. On top of this, fans are expecting new premium devices from Apple, Samsung, Google and more. All we can do now is wait until these releases finally hit the shelves. Until then, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at 2021 instead. What were the best selling smartphones of 2021? Was there a “winner” in the smartphone war? We’ll cover everything you should know about the best selling smartphones of last year, to get you prepared for this year!

Top 10 Best Selling Smartphones Worldwide

2021 was a huge year for smartphones. With the pandemic still underway, millions of users around the world managed to purchase their devices completely online. Fortunately, CounterPoint Research managed to keep track of all these global sales and provide us readers with the data. CounterPoint’s study measures the top 10 best selling smartphones worldwide as percentages of total global smartphone unit sales. For example, the top spot is the iPhone 12, which took up 2.9% of the world’s smartphone sales last year. Surprisingly, the rest of the list proves that Apple dominated the global market. The iPhone 12 Pro Max took second place (2.2%), followed by the iPhone 13 (2.1%), iPhone 12 Pro (2.1%) and iPhone 11 (2.0%).


Although Apple products dominated the top five slots, Samsung managed to creep in at number six with the Galaxy A12 (2.0%). Right behind the A12 is the Xiaomi Redmi 9A (1.9%). The iPhone SE 2020 (1.6%) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (1.3%) took up the eighth and ninth spots, bringing Apple’s total on the top ten up to seven. Finally, the Xiaomi Redmi 9 closes off the list with 1.1%. Feel free to check out the full graph below:

Source: CounterPoint’s Global Monthly Handset Model Sales Tracker, December 2021

World’s Best Selling Smartphones – Analysis

Consumers can learn a lot from CounterPoint’s data. Most obviously, iPhones dominated the global market in 2021. However, it’s interesting to note that the iPhone 12 took up both of the top spots, despite being released back in 2020. In addition, last year’s flagship device from Samsung, the S21, was nowhere to be found in the top ten. Keeping this in mind, we can learn that brand new flagship phones don’t sell as much as ones from previous years. This makes sense, since premium devices are highly expensive upon release, and only drop in price once a newer model is released. 


If this trend continues on, 2022’s highest selling phones could be devices like the iPhone 13, Samsung S22 and Pixel 6. A cell phone will probably never be the most popular phone of the year in the same year which it is released, but we would love to be proven wrong! Were you surprised by the top ten best selling smartphones of 2021? Who do you think will sell the most this year? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, just leave a comment. We’re already excited to see CounterPoint’s data for 2022, and see whether or not Apple’s domination will continue. 


After reading a list like this, it’s important to remember that the world’s best selling phones are not the same as the world’s best phones. Finding the best cell phone is a different journey for everyone, since we all have different tastes and preferences. Luckily for you, PlanHub can help you find your perfect cell phone in a few short minutes. Our page on cell phone brands outlines general information, prices, pros and cons for all the industry’s latest devices. Scroll through all the most popular devices from a number of manufacturers until you find one that seems up your alley. Finally, use our mobile plan matching tool to find a perfect phone plan for your new device. It’s as simple as that! If you use PlanHub, you can find a brand new cell phone and a suitable phone plan in no time. 

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