Research house Canalys tracked 31.9 million smartphone shipments in the U.S. for the second quarter, down 5% from last year. Diverging plotlines between the novel coronavirus pandemic and the trade war with China are putting intense pressures on the industry in terms of cost and product strategy.
Apple led the pack with 15 million moves or a 47% share as it capitalized with flagship offerings at lower prices: the iPhone 11, which starts at $699, beat shipments of its predecessor, the $599 iPhone XR, by 15% while the $399 iPhone SE boosted numbers immensely.
Samsung came in second with just under half of Apple's stats. The raw number is flat from 2019, but customers tilted to offerings under $250 like the Galaxy A10e and A20. The 5G-enabled Galaxy S20 series, which started at $999, performed 59% worse than the Galaxy S10 lineup where only one phone had 5G capabilities.
LG at 11%, Lenovo at 7%, and TCL at 4% rounded out the top five brands. Lesser-known foreign brands Wiko and Unimax got some pickup as more wireless customers joined a federally-backed low-cost Lifeline service plan.
Chinese factories ramped up operations back to normal after dealing with the immediate waves of the pandemic which originated in Wuhan — 70% of shipped phones were made in the country, up 10 percentage points from this Q1. That said, the Trump administration isn't likely to throttle down its tariffs on wide swaths of Chinese-produced products including smartphone components anytime soon.
Combine that factor with manufacturers injecting costs down the supply chain to support the widespread launch of 5G and Canalys is betting that 5G device adoption will remain stifled — we'll want to see if mid-range 5G phones like the Galaxy A51 5G and Pixel 4a 5G will permeate the market.
People paid $503 on average for a new phone this spring, down about $50 from the same time last year.