The smartphone industry suffered its biggest year-over-year decline in quarterly shipments in North America during the first quarter of 2019. According to Canalys
, deliveries of smartphones in North America hit a five-year low during the period from January through March as 36.4 million units were shipped. That was down a record 18% from the 44.4 million handsets shipped during the first quarter of 2018; that figure set a record for the most smartphones shipped in North America during a quarter.
During the three month period, Apple shipped 14.6 million iPhones, down from the 17.9 million it shipped last year. The "more affordable" iPhone XR
was responsible for 4.5 million of those units shipped. While Apple suffered a 19% decline in North American shipments, it still led the way in the U.S. with a 40% market share. Samsung was second and delivered 10.7 million smartphones in North America during the first three months of the year. The increase from the 10.3 million it shipped last year was enough for the company to pick up some ground on Apple. Samsung's Q1 market share of 29.3% cut Apple's lead on the continent to 10.7 percentage points from 17.1pp last year.
Canalys said that some of the features of the Samsung Galaxy S10
line such as the ultra-wide angle lens, the punch-hole display, and the reverse wireless charging
helped drive demand for the phones in the first quarter. The company shipped more than two million units each of the Galaxy S10e
and Galaxy S10+
according to Canalys' data. The firm says Samsung will be negatively impacted later this year by the OnePlus 7
and OnePlus 7 Pro
, both of which have features found on the Galaxy S10 range. In addition, it notes that Samsung could be hurt by Google's move into lower price points and more carrier channels, and the return of ZTE to the low end of the market. Meanwhile, Canalys said that there was an "uptick" in iPhone XR shipments in North America during the first quarter, but warns that for the company's performance to improve next year, it needs to come up with some new features that will "impress consumers." The analytical firm says that the current batch of iPhone models is just not different enough compared to older models.
Apple had 40% of the smartphone market in North America during Q1
Even with a 24% decline in North American shipments to 4.8 million units, LG captured third place with 13.3% of the market. Lenovo's shipments rose a strong 42% during the quarter, leaving it with 2.4 million units shipped and 6.5% of the market. In fifth place was TCL, possibly capitalizing on its position as a BlackBerry licensee. The company had 4% of the North American smartphone pie during the quarter, shipping 1.4 million phones. That was up from the 1.1 million it delivered during the same period last year.
The most popular phone in North America is currently the Apple iPhone XR
The Apple iPhone XR was the most popular phone in North America from January through March, with 13% of the market. That was followed by the Samsung Galaxy S10e
and the Samsung Galaxy S10+
, each with a 6% share. The three combined owned 25% of the market in North America during the first three months of the year.
The three top phones in North America accounted for 25% of shipments in the first quarter
The smartphone market is not expected to immediately get a boost from the new foldable phones, and from handsets that support 5G. Foldable phone pricing is extremely prohibitive with the currently delayed Samsung Galaxy Fold
priced at $1,980. The Huawei Mate X
, which most likely won't be sold in the states, is priced at the equivalent of $2,600. As for 5G phones, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
, which launches on Verizon next week, carries a price tag of $1,299.99. Eventually, the pricing of both foldable and 5G phones will come down and help generate new demand, but that might not happen for a few years.