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Strong growth for 5G smartphone shipments in Q3 2021

by Ken Hyers | Nov 02, 2021

5G smartphone shipments grew 121% annually in Q3 2021. LTE phones remain the top selling technology globally, but 4G is about to be toppled, perhaps as soon as Q4 2021.

Apple is the global top-selling 5G smartphone vendor currently, a position they’ve held since introducing their first 5G iPhone in Q4 2020.

Xiaomi, in 2nd place in 5G, retains a narrow lead over Samsung, in 3rd. However, Samsung is growing its global 5G smartphone share while Xiaomi, with more limited geographic reach, saw its 5G share shrink sequentially in the third quarter of 2021.

Global 5G Smartphone Shipment Share Q3 2021

Of the top-5 5G smartphone vendors, only one Chinese brand, OPPO, improved its share sequentially in Q3’21. With growth slowing for Chinese brands in 5G smartphones, is it time to start asking whether their previous rapid growth, driven by domestic demand for 5G devices, is hitting a speed-bump due to their reliance on Chinese consumers and relatively weak international distribution in key 5G markets?

Looking forward to 2022 and beyond, we expect Samsung to continue to improve its share of global 5G smartphone shipments.  As India begins to shift to 5G Samsung will benefit, but so will Xiaomi and some other Chinese brands that are strong in that market.

Chinese smartphone brands will need to continue to push into Eastern and Western Europe to grow their 5G share, while Apple, whose focus is exclusively in high-end and premium smartphones, will eventually run into its own speed bump in terms of share growth, as more consumers look to lower priced Android 5G smartphones.

Clients of Strategy Analytics’ Device Technologies service can learn more about the 5G smartphone market and access the report Vendor Share: Global Handset Market by Technology: Q3 2021, here.

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