If you'd told me Huawei would rise to be the world's biggest smartphone vendor this time last year, I would have laughed you out of the room, and yet here we are. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many companies very hard, but Samsung's decline has been steeper than most as many of its key markets are suffering. Meanwhile, Huawei now sells 70% of its smartphones in China, whose economic recovery has been relatively swift in recent months.

This strong showing at home in Q2 2020 has allowed Huawei to somewhat mitigate against US restrictions that prevent it from selling phones with Google apps and services in overseas markets where its shipments have dropped 27%. According to market analyst Canalys, Samsung's second-quarter smartphone sales of 53.7 million mark a 30% decrease compared with the same period last year, with important markets such as the US, India, Brazil, and many European countries struggling to deal with the global situation.

Huawei's 55.8 million shipments are 5% lower than this time last year, but that's not enough to stop it taking the top spot for the first time. The sales charts have been dominated by Apple and Samsung for the past 9 years, and that would likely have continued but for the coronavirus pandemic. It's unlikely Huawei will be able to maintain its position as the global economy recovers, with retailers in countries outside China increasingly wary of stocking the company's products.