Despite poor coverage, Verizon towers above its rivals in 5G smartphone sales

Despite poor coverage, Verizon towers above its rivals in 5G smartphone sales
It's probably not premature to notice 5G-enabled smartphones haven't exactly sold like hotcakes thus far. After all, the Galaxy S10 5G became commercially available in the US more than a year ago, and according to a market report from a couple of months back, global 5G smartphone shipments barely exceeded 24 million units during the first 90 days of 2020.

Stateside, that number was estimated at around 3 million units for the same timeframe by Strategy Analytics researchers, and although the groundbreaking new cellular technology is obviously still in its infancy, you can't blame the low 5G adoption rate entirely on some people's skepticism of embracing the future.

But as it turns out, the sluggish network upgrades and poor 5G penetration of carriers like Verizon might not be primarily at fault either. That's because Big Red has actually been able to eclipse its competition in terms of 5G handset sales for the past few months, according to new data harvested by M Science and shared with PCMag's Sascha Segan. We're talking a small advantage initially claimed after the aforementioned Galaxy S10 5G launch that gradually got bigger and bigger since February 2020.


There are no prizes for guessing what major event happened then that considerably boosted the numbers of all big four US wireless service providers, but what's interesting is that Verizon's sales continued to climb several months after the commercial debut of Samsung's Galaxy S20 family. 

That's most likely because the nation's largest carrier took its sweet time to release a 5G UW edition of the smaller S20 variant, but it could also have something to do with Verizon's unusual generosity when it comes to 5G-capable phones. As pointed out by Segan, the aforementioned 6.2-inch Galaxy S20 is cheaper at Big Red with fewer strings attached than at other operators, and the same goes for devices like Samsung's mid-range Galaxy A71 5G and even the LG V60 ThinQ.

That brings us to quite possibly the real number one reason why consumers are not flocking to US carrier stores to buy 5G smartphones in the millions. Namely, prohibitive prices rather than limited network coverage or modest speed gains. Otherwise, how can you explain Verizon reportedly managed to cross the 100,000 5G unit-sales-a-week mark at the end of May, maintaining that relatively high bar through June, while the competition never surpassed the 40,000 weekly total?

Clearly, Big Red is doing something right, at least in comparison with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, and that something is most definitely not related to the operator's actual 5G Ultra Wideband signal, which is about as elusive as toilet paper at the peak of the coronavirus panic.

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