Apple Watch beats Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to smartwatch crown in 2021

2021 also saw big demand for sub-$100 smartwatches
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The Apple Watch dominated the smartwatch market in 2021 as the market as a whole grew after the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

That's according to the latest findings from research firm Counterpoint Research and its global smartwatch model tracker, which suggests there was an overall year-on-year growth of 24%.

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It also revealed that in the fourth quarter, more than 40 million units were shipped globally, which is apparently the highest quarterly shipment of smartwatches ever.

In terms of that share of that market, Apple had the biggest slice of the pie with 30.1%, which was actually slightly down from 32.9% in 2020. In 2021, it launched the Apple Watch Series 7 with new case sizes, bigger screens and more a rugged design.

Samsung moved from third up to second spot with 10.2% of the market, which may be partly driven by the Korean tech giant's decision to dump its own Tizen OS platform for Google's Wear OS when it launched the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

Apple Watch beats Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to smartwatch crown in 2021

Huawei dropped to third with 7.7% of the market and remained competitive thanks to the launches of the Huawei Watch GT 3 and the Huawei Watch Fit Mini.

The rest of the market was made up by kids smartwatch maker Imoo, Amazfit, Garmin, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Indian smartwatch brand Noise.

The appetite for smartwatches in India is a big reason for the overall market growth with its share of the market up from 3% to 10% in 2021.

The emergence of more affordable smartwatches seems to be a key factor in overall growth, with the likes of Amazfit, Xiaomi and Noise all enjoying a strong 2021. Clearly though it wasn't enough to knock Apple off its lofty perch.

These numbers largely tell a similar story to what we recently heard from fellow analyst firm CCS Insight with its take on global wearable shipments in 2021. It reported an estimated 232 million wearables were shipped in 2021, with Apple leading those shipments followed by Huawei, Zepp, Fitbit and then Samsung.

it's clear that smartwatch sales are on the rise and with more launches on the way before the end of the year from Apple, Samsung and possibly even Google, we anticipate there'll be no signs of things slowing up either in 2022.


How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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