Chinese Huawei lost its title as the world's leading smartphone seller in the third quarter, while compatriot Xiaomi took third place, according to research firm Canalys.

Affected by US sanctions, Huawei sold in the third quarter 51.7 million phones (-23% over one year). At the same time, its South Korean rival Samsung sold 80.2 million devices (+ 2% over one year) and was again the world's largest manufacturer, according to the Canalys study published on Thursday.

Huawei is in the crosshairs of the administration of US President Donald Trump who suspects him of potential spying for the benefit of Beijing, which the group denies. Huawei was blacklisted last year to prevent it from acquiring essential US technologies for its phones.

Since September, for example, the firm can no longer equip its high-end devices with new Kirin chips, which the group does not have the capacity to manufacture in-house. She also has no longer access to Android updates, the ultra-dominant American Google operating system on phones. This situation has apparently benefited its rival Xiaomi.

"Xiaomi took the risk of setting high production targets and it paid off," said Mo Jia, Canalys analyst.

Xiaomi goes up, Huawei goes down

Result, the Chinese manufacturer has sold 47.1 million smartphones (+ 45% over one year) over the July-September period, despite global demand down 1% compared to the third quarter of 2019. "There is a parallel between Xiaomi, which produced 14.5 million more devices, and Huawei, which produced more. 15.1 million less ", notes Mo.

Founded in 2010, Xiaomi has known a meteoric boom in recent years by offering high-end but affordable devices, and initially selling them directly online.

Almost unknown abroad just five years ago, the brand was regularly mocked for its products heavily inspired by the Apple iPhone.

The latter falls to the place of the world's fourth manufacturer behind Xiaomi, with 43.2 million devices sold in the third quarter (+ 1% over one year).

Vivo and Oppo, two other Chinese brands, occupy the fifth and sixth places respectively.