Which is the Hottest US Carrier in Q3?

According to the Counterpoint US Online/Offline Channel Share Tracker, the quick answer is T-Mobile. The ‘un-carrier’ is punching above its weight (or smartphone base) in the net-add race and churn metrics through the first six weeks of the quarter.

T-Mobile continues to run an aggressive $830 upgrade offer with a trade-in of a used device. The carrier also offers new customers or current customers (with a trade-in) a free Samsung A32, OnePlus Nord N200 5G or T-Mobile branded REVVL V+ 5G. These devices are $200-$282 at full retail price. Right now, there seems to be no end in sight to this aggressive 5G upgrade program. With T-Mobile improving its network, new opportunities have opened up within B2B, small town/rural America and fixed wireless access. Expect the carrier to continue to remain aggressive while it has a mid-band 5G rollout lead.

AT&T is having a strong start to the quarter. The carrier continues its promos and aggressive TV advertisement of upgrading its base. The third-largest carrier in the US continues to offer $700 off on many flagships with a trade-in. These promos are for both the base and existing customers.

Verizon started Q3 matching AT&T’s offer, but it ended this upgrade offer in July. We are watching if this will affect its net-adds during the quarter. So far, it appears T-Mobile and AT&T are winning the net-port war. Verizon continues to see very low churn and improving service revenue metrics with more unlimited subscribers.

Counterpoint Research - US Carrier Q2 2021 - Postpaid Phone Net Adds (in '000)
Source: Company 10Q’s

Postpaid channels continue to outperform prepaid channels. During Q2, postpaid channels added an incredible 2.25 million phone subscribers.

Where are these subscribers coming from in the mature US market?

Here are three major reasons:

  • Due to COVID-19 and extended work-from-home status, more companies issued a business line to employees. Even when lines were not business sponsored, business lines were added, many for gig economy work or simply to have a dedicated line for work-from-home.
  • Due to extended school-from-home, more children received mobile lines to communicate and help with studying.
  • Some of the subscriber gains can be attributed to carriers gaming the system. Free extra lines and large promos inflate net additions. These promos are especially prominent at the end of quarters to pad the quarterly numbers.

Other early takeaways from Q3 include:

  • Samsung saw very weak shipments in June, which led to severe shortages in July. This was mainly due to COVID-19 hitting Vietnam extremely hard. A large percentage of A-series and S-series devices are manufactured there. Production resumed in July to normal levels and August sales increased, especially for A-series where it is gaining share from LG’s exit. The COVID-19 situation remains dire in Vietnam, and the OEM also has to navigate component shortages.
  • Motorola volumes decreased significantly in August due to component shortages. It is too bad for the #3 OEM in the US as it was poised to win over considerable volumes from the exit of LG.
  • Apple continues to remain shielded from the impact of component shortages. iPhone 12-series sales continue strong with ongoing 5G promos within the major carriers. The iPhone 12 mini has seen growing sales related to a promotion within prepaid channels that offers the device for free to switchers. B2B share gains have also helped.
  • White label sales have increased due to LG and VinSmart’s exit and component shortages. T-Mobile branded REVVL devices, Cricket branded Vision, Influence, Ovation and Icon devices, and AT&T branded Calypso and Maestro Max devices have all seen higher sell-through in August. There are also opportunities for Nokia HMD and TCL if their volumes are not constrained.

Related Posts

Jeff has 25+ years experience in technology research, business development, competitive intelligence, and business management. Prior to joining Counterpoint Research, Jeff held various research & product development roles at Microsoft, Nokia, Roth Capital Partners, and Gartner. Jeff is a member of many telecom industry organizations including Colorado Wireless Association,, CommNexus, and is a regular speaker at major telecom industry events. He was a 4x NCAA all-American in tennis and is a 12-time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.