Apple still leading the wearable charge ahead of Xiaomi and Huawei

Hearables are also on the rise, according to latest IDC report
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The Apple Watch is helping the company rule the wearable roost in 2019, according to the latest report from analytics firm IDC.

In the latest edition of its Worldwide Quarterly Device Tracker, IDC put Apple out on top in terms of shipment volume and market share, ahead of Xiaomi, with the Mi Band 3 makers taking second spot, and Huawei, who secured third place.

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Apple's collection of wearables, of course, is headlined by the Apple Watch, but the analyst firm also includes AirPods and its Beats headphones in its tracker data. The market share and shipment data puts Apple way ahead in front of its closest competitors. It's also seen a yearly growth of almost 50%, putting the Cupertino giant in a good place to have another good year - and that's before we have any sign of an Apple Watch Series 5, which we expect to be unveiled later this year.

Apple still leading the wearable charge ahead of Xiaomi and Huawei

The top five wearable companies list is completed by Samsung (fourth) and Fitbit (fifth), with the latter shipping 2.9 million devices in the first quarter of 2019. Fitbit launched its new Versa Lite Edition smartwatch, as well as the Inspire, Inspire HR and Ace 2 trackers, back in March, so those devices would have likely landed too late to be a considerable factor in those quarterly figures. The Ace 2, Fitbit's second generation kids fitness tracker, has only just gone on sale, too.

When IDC breaks things down to wrist-worn devices only in Q1, it's actually Xiaomi that sits on top for market share and shipments, putting the Chinese company ahead of Apple and Huawei, who again sit in third.

Looking at the wearable space as a whole, IDC says global shipments reached 49.6 million units during the first quarter of 2019, which is up 55.2% from the same period last year. Ear-worn devices (or hearables, as we call them) are showing the fastest growth, which accounted for 34.6% of the share in Q1 2019. IDC says the decision by many smartphone manufacturers to ditch headphone jacks and the increased usage of smart assistants is driving that growth.

"Looking ahead, this [hearables category] will become an increasingly important category, as major platform and device makers use ear-worn devices as an on-ramp to entice consumers into an ecosystem of wearable devices that complement the smartphone, but also offer the ability to leave the phone behind when necessary," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers.

For now, though, it looks like wrist-worn devices that tap into health and fitness are leading the charge. That seems unlikely to change for the rest of the year, where we still anticipate big launches from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin.

Apple still leading the wearable charge ahead of Xiaomi and Huawei

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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