Samsung dominates early market for 5G smartphones

Hands on with Samsung's Galaxy Fold
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Samsung is dominating the nascent market for 5G smartphones, with its devices accounting for three quarters of all recent shipments.

The Korean mobile giant’s share shrunk from 83 per cent to 74 per cent but volumes increased from 1.5 million to 3.2 million over the past three months, new analyst figures have revealed. LG is the second largest manufacturer with 10 per cent of the market and 0.4 million shipments.

Both companies have benefited from the early rollout of 5G networks in their native South Korea, while Samsung has also benefited from the largest range of compatible devices (five). The latter has also benefited from Huawei’s difficulties in the west.

5G smartphone sales

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G was the biggest selling model, accounting for 1.6 million of all handsets sold in Q3.

“Samsung has come out of the gate running in the initial stage of the 5G smartphone business,” said Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst, smartphones, at IHS Markit Technology.  “The company successfully capitalized on its home-field advantage in the fast-developing South Korean market to rapidly ramp up shipments. Samsung also has moved quickly to fill out its 5G smartphone line, giving it the largest portfolio of any brand.”

Chinese vendors such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and others are currently minor players in the 5G market because the majority of devices sold to date have been outside their homeland, wherethese companies have a lower profile. The majority of sales in China tend to be in the mid-range segment, whereas 5G smartphones are currently high-end products.

The current average selling price of a 5G device is $994 however this is still three times higher than the average cost of a smartphone. However this will come down over time as manufacturers look to expand their share and component makers target other segments.

The launch of 5G in China, the world’s biggest mobile market, will accelerate this shift.

In total, 13.5 million 5G handsets are expected to have been sold by the end of 2019, increasing to 253 million next year.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.