Research firm Canalys has found global smartphone shipments grew 1 per cent in Q3 of 2019, reversing two years of declines.
Samsung shipped the greatest number of smartphones, at 78.9 million devices, a rise of 11 per cent, compared to the corresponding period the year prior.
Canalys analysis claimed its top ranking was due to an aggressive new product strategy with the Galaxy A series replacing Galaxy J, and the release of Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10.
While the Note10’s two screen sizes and separate 5G variants has impacted on profitability at the high-end, it has resulted in greater volume, outshipping last year’s Note9 by over 5 per cent, the research stated.
Rushabh Doshi, Canalys research director, claimed 5G is “the next battleground” for the manufacturer.
“It is one of very few smartphone vendors to design its own chipsets and modems. It is not, therefore, restricted to the innovation cycle of a third-party component supplier like Qualcomm,” Doshi said. “If Samsung moves faster than Qualcomm, it can win the race to mid-range smartphones with 5G. Its recent announcement of the Galaxy A90 5G and the upcoming Exynos 980 chipset highlights its strategic priorities.”
Huawei came second with 66.8 million units, up 29 per cent, despite its placement in Q2 on the US’ “Entity List”, which means US corporations that conduct business with the vendor need special licenses.
While most of its growth was attributed to its performance in China, it also saw growth in overseas markets with volumes increasing 3.8 million over the quarter to 25.3 million due to a rise in demand during the pause in procurement in Q2.
However, Ben Stanton, senior analyst at Canalys, said that the China-based vendor’s future was uncertain.
“Its shipments overseas in Q3 were focused on pre-Entity List models, with P30 Lite its best shipper, at close to three million units. But its post-Entity List models, like Mate 30, bring uncertainty because there is resistance from channels in critical overseas markets, like Europe, to support Huawei devices without Google Mobile Services (GMS),” Stanton said.
“Huawei does have the potential to rapidly bring GMS to its devices if the political situation changes, but time is not on its side. It is nearing the launch timeframe for new Y-series and P-series in early 2020. These families are major volume drivers for Huawei, and accounted for 64 per cent of its volume in the first half of this year.
“It will be a major challenge to retain its overseas volume if the Entity List saga is not resolved in the coming months," he said.
Apple was in third with 43.5 million units, a decline of 7 per cent. This is an improvement on Q1 and Q2, which saw double-digit declines.
Vincent Thielke, Canalys research analyst said that while the iPhone 11 launched to strong reviews, the lack of 5G in any of Apple’s products will hurt it in early 2020.
“It will miss out on heavy operator investment in 5G marketing and promotions, and the wide expectation for Apple to launch a 5G iPhone in September 2020 may convince some customers to delay purchasing, to ensure their device is future-proof,” Thielke said.
“Apple will need an unconventional strategy to keep its volume high in the early stages of next year, which makes rumours of an upcoming entry-level iPhone launch in H1 2020 unsurprising.”
Following the top three was Xiaomi with 32.5 million shipments, a rise of 9.2 per cent, and then Oppo with 32 million shipments at 9.1 per cent.