OnePlus explodes in US smartphone market as battle for LG's share commences

OnePlus explodes in US smartphone market as battle for LG's share commences
The US smartphone market isn’t as competitive as the European one, but in the first half of 2021 there was a lot of movement as consumer demand rebounded and LG announced its exit.

Apple and Samsung continue to lead the US smartphone market

Counterpoint Research claims that US smartphone shipments increased 27% in the first six months of 2021 as carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile continued to push 5G upgrades and offer big discounts on 5G devices.

Apple and Samsung continued to lead the US smartphone market thanks to their positions in the premium segment. Apple was able to report 53% year-on-year growth with a resilient supply chain that kept the iPhone 12 in stock.

Samsung, on the other hand, managed a respectable 17% year-on-year increase. However, Counterpoint believes Samsung would have performed significantly better without the ongoing chip shortages.

The affordable Galaxy A32 5G was a big hit for the South Korean brand thanks to its partnership with T-Mobile, who offered it up to customers for free as part of its ‘5G for All’ promotion that started in April.

Because of supply problems, T-Mobile has since retired the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G from its promotional campaign and replaced it with the OnePlus Nord N200 5G and REVVL V+ 5G.

OnePlus was the fastest-growing smartphone brand in the US

The Nord N200 5G is one of the cheapest 5G smartphones available in the US and the high volumes from T-Mobiles ‘5G for All’ promotion are helping OnePlus grow its installed base and capture some of LG’s market share.

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In the first half of 2021, OnePlus was the fastest-growing smartphone brand with a huge 428% year-on-year increase in total shipments. But not everything is down to the ‘5G for All’ campaign.

The arrival of the Nord N100 and Nord N10 5G in January quickly boosted OnePlus’ market share at T-Mobile and Metro. That further expanded in the second quarter with the OnePlus 9 launch and the announcement of LG’s exit.

It’ll remain to be seen how OnePlus performs in the second half of 2021. With the OnePlus 9T cancelation and no additional Nord products known to be in the pipeline, OnePlus could be relying on the continued success of its existing models.

Motorola and Nokia are also benefiting from LG’s exit

In addition to OnePlus, both Motorola and Nokia are said to be benefiting from LG’s smartphone market exit. Motorola reportedly experienced an 83% year-on-year increase in shipments, while HMD Global-backed Nokia registered a 35% surge. These two brands are constantly churning out devices and the strategy seems to be paying off. 

Crucially, over the coming year there could be an influx of upgraders looking for affordable 5G smartphones as Verizon completes its purchase of Tracfone, CDMA networks are shut down, and DISH migrates to AT&T

Google was the big loser last quarter

Despite growing demand for 5G smartphones, Pixel shipments dropped 7% year-on-year in the first half of 2021 as customers skipped the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) in favor of devices from rival brands. It’s not a massive decline, yet it’s arguably the most noteworthy one. 

LG experienced a 35% decrease in shipments but has announced its exit from the segment, so the numbers are sort of irrelevant. ZTE, on the other hand, has been hit by US trade sanctions over the years, so its drop of 77% year-on-year is far from surprising.

Google is still very much eager to compete in the US smartphone market and is now betting heavily on the upcoming Pixel 6 series to turn things around. Rumor has it that it’ll include a custom chipset, new design language, and overhauled camera.

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