Huawei has defied the odds in a huge market surprise and not only stayed ahead of Apple but also overtaken Samsung to become the world's largest smartphone manufacturer - at least for the month of April.

The news came just after the US tightened its supply chain restrictions on the Chinese tech group. This is the first time the company has hit the top spot - a welcome respite from a string of negative publicity.

The latest figures come from Counterpoint's research department, which reported to Gizmochina that for at least a month, Huawei was the top smartphone manufacturer in the world with a market share of 19 percent.  Samsung was behind with only 17 percent.

Neil Shah, vice president of Research at Counterpoint, stated that Huawei gained primarily from the China market where it has stepped up efforts since the notorious US trade ban. In terms of demand and supply, Shah also said the Chinese smartphone market is back to normal, giving Huawei the much-needed sales boost.

Interestingly, the analyst noted smartphone sales nearly dropped to zero in April in main Samsung markets like India, US, Latin America and parts of Europe. All these regions were at the time under a strict lockdown due to the global health crisis, which is also why Samsung's Galaxy S20 series sales remained unconventionally low.

Global smartphone shipments totaled 69.37 million units in April, down 41 percent year-on-year, due to lockdowns across different countries, Counterpoint said.

Smartphone shipments in China rose 17.2 per cent on an annual basis in April, the first such expansion in the past four months, said the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, adding this was a sign of a strong rebound in consumer enthusiasm for electronic products.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics also predicted that, despite the epidemic, China would still be the main market driver for 5G smartphones worldwide.

Huawei's loss of Google from its new smartphones has battered global sales in the aftermath of the US blacklist last May. Yet its impressive success at home shored up overall sales - Huawei's domestic market domination has gone from strength to strength.

Meanwhile, smartphone sales by Huawei in Europe are down nearly 40 percent year-on-year, with Xiaomi nibbling at its heels. According to analysts, this year will be a questionable sales ride for all the leading phone makers, and it's not easy to estimate where these companies will end up. Through that uncertainty, however, Huawei's grip on the local market will be invaluable.