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Huawei to top Apple's 2018 phone sales as trade war heat builds

Chinese maker to grab second place globally but faces suspicion in key markets

The Huawei P20 smartphone comes equipped with Leica cameras. The company has shipped more than 200 million units in 2018.

GUANGZHOU -- Huawei Technologies is on track to beat Apple in full-year smartphone sales for the first time and take second place in the global market, with more than 200 million units already shipped in 2018.

The Chinese telecommunications company has greatly increased sales in China, Europe and Africa this year, and has already achieved a more than 30% jump in global unit sales from the 153 million sold in 2017. The P20 series, featuring high-spec cameras co-developed with Germany's Leica, was especially popular.

Yet, the arrest of a top executive in Canada has placed Huawei in the middle of the trade war between the U.S. and China. Countries and companies across the world are shying away from its communications equipment, and its smartphone sales are expected to suffer in 2019.

Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand have joined the U.S. in excluding Huawei equipment from their next-generation 5G mobile networks. And earlier this month, Japan effectively banned Huawei and another Chinese tech provider, ZTE, from government contracts to guard against leaks of sensitive data.

Huawei controlled 10.4% of the global smartphone market in 2017, behind Samsung Electronics' 21.6% and Apple's 14.7%, according to the International Data Corp. But the Chinese company came in second behind Samsung for the first time in the April-June quarter, and kept its place ahead of Apple in July-September as well. Apple shipped 215.8 million units in 2017.

Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to fall for the second straight year in 2018.

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