October Global Smartphone Sales Break Two-Year Losing Streak, Path Set for Gradual Recovery

  • In October 2023, the global monthly smartphone sell-through recorded its first YoY growth since June 2021, breaking the streak of 27 months of consecutive YoY declines.
  • October also marked the biggest monthly smartphone sales since January 2022.
  • Emerging markets led the recovery, with MEA showing the highest YoY growth, followed by China and India

London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – November 22, 2023

Global monthly smartphone sell-through volumes grew 5% YoY in October 2023, the first month to record YoY growth since June 2021 and break the streak of 27 consecutive months of YoY declines, according to preliminary numbers from Counterpoint Research’s Smartphone 360 Monthly Tracker.

Global Monthly Smartphone Sell-Through returns to YoY growth after 2 years

A chart showing Global Monthly Smartphone Sell-Through returns to YoY growth after 2 years

Global smartphone sales have been under stress for the last two years due to factors including component shortages, inventory build-up and lengthening of replacement cycles. These issues have been compounded by an uncertain macroeconomic environment.

The growth in October was led by emerging markets with a continuous recovery in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, Huawei’s comeback in China and festive season onset in India, which punched far above its weight to account for the largest share of monthly global gains. Developed markets with relatively higher smartphone saturation have been slower to recover.

Another growth factor has been the late launch of the iPhone 15 series when compared to last year. The one-week delay this year meant the full effect of the new iPhone sales was felt in October.

Following this strong growth in October, we expect the market to grow YoY in Q4 2023 as well, setting out on a path to gradual recovery in the coming quarters.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media, and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects, and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Podcast: Operator Promos Drive US 5G Smartphone Prices Under $150

The beginning of 2020 was quite challenging for the smartphone market after the COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in lockdowns across several countries. However, things eased in the second half with pent-up demand driving smartphone sales. The momentum continued through Q1 2021, with the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 series doing well in the premium segment. Even the telecom operators offered great deals and trade-in offers that helped in ensuring better sales.

Prices of prepaid 5G smartphones in the US have come down in just under two years. With promotional offers from operators, we are even seeing these devices available under $150. So, operators are going all out with their marketing budget to push sales. Talking about this mid-range segment, LG has announced its formal exit from the smartphone market, which will leave a void to be filled in. It creates an opportunity for other smartphone makers such as Samsung, Motorola, Alcatel and TCL to increase their share.

In the latest episode of ‘The Counterpoint Podcast’, host Maurice Klaehne is joined by Research Director Jeff Fieldhack to talk about the US smartphone market, refurb channel, smartphone spec upgrades and more. The discussion highlights how the smartphone market is recovering after the COVID-19 impact, and touches upon the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage and its implications. Jeff also offers insights on how the prepaid and postpaid channels are performing, how 5G mobile broadband and home broadband are shaping up to ease work-from-home, and much more.

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You can read the podcast transcript here.

Podcast Chapter Markers

2:10 – What are the key drivers for the US smartphone market?

6:20 – What is the demand like in mid-tier and budget devices, especially with operator promos and tax season coming up?

9:45 – What is the lowest price you’ve seen for 5G smartphones including promotions and discounts?

11:38 – First Huawei sanctions, now LG exiting the smartphone market. Who do you think will fill in that void that is left?

16:24 – How did the refurb market perform in 2020, and does the ongoing chip shortage create an opportunity for the refurb devices?

18:19 – What are the key smartphone specs upgrades and trends that you are seeing in the market?

22:33 – How is 5G shaping up in the US, and can you talk a little bit about what operators are doing?

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Podcast: 5G Smartphone Shipments to Double in 2021 Despite Component Shortages

We saw the first wave of 5G smartphone launches in H1 2019 with prices above $1,000. These premium smartphones gave way to a completely new pricing landscape in just around a year, with the most affordable 5G smartphone coming under $200 in China in 2020. Moving into 2021, we have the ongoing issue of component shortages across the semiconductor industry.

In our previous podcast, we discussed the auto sector’s semiconductor shortage and how it may not ease until late 2021. But how will the chip and component shortage impact the smartphone market in 2021? Will we see the prices of 5G smartphones going down further or will they stabilize? While operators in the US are pushing for mmWave 5G, the other regions are mostly looking at Sub-6GHz. So, will Sub-6GHz 5G smartphones outsell the mmWave ones?

In the latest episode of ‘The Counterpoint Podcast’, host Peter Richardson is joined by Associate Director Brady Wang and Research Analyst Parv Sharma to discuss our growth outlook for 5G smartphones, expectations for 2021 and a lot more.

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US 5G Smartphone Sales Extend Cross-Country in the First Month of Sales

Verizon’s 5G smartphone sales are dispersed all over the US, showing that consumer demand goes beyond the cities with 5G coverage.

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul

July 12, 2019

The US market shows 5G smartphone sales in over 10 cities in May despite Verizon only launching 5G services in Chicago and Minneapolis, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s US Smartphone Sales by City Tracker. While Chicago did show the highest concentration of sales, it represented only 5% of total 5G smartphone sales according to data collected across millions of sales data points during May.

Speaking about the initial 5G expansion in the US, Tom Kang, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, said, “Verizon started the nation’s first 5G service and also the world’s first 5G service with millimeter wave. In April, the service was launched in just two cities, Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon continues to add cities slowly. Denver joined on June 27th and Rhode Island on July 1st.”

Kang continued, “The top 10 cities make up just one-third of all 5G smartphone sales in May. This indicates how widespread initial 5G smartphone sales have been, despite early predictions that sales will concentrate in cities with 5G service. Consumers are buying 5G capable devices across the country despite not having a 5G network available in most cases. Minneapolis, one of the two launch cities is not even in the top 10 list. Instead, we see cities like Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles in the top five cities list for 5G smartphone sales.”

5G Smartphone Sales Distribution by City

Maurice Klaehne, Research Analyst, further commented, “In our newest US consumer survey, we see that many consumers are forward-looking when it comes to 5G smartphone purchases. Over 85% of consumers have some awareness of 5G and are planning their next smartphone purchase with 5G network capabilities in mind. In other words, consumers are futureproofing themselves with the purchase of a 5G device.”

Klaehne added, “In our 5G Korea report, we showcased how Korean consumers began purchasing 5G devices as they took advantage of aggressive promotion strategies and data plans that aligned with consumer needs despite the current network shortcomings. Korea now has all major carriers promoting 5G, and all major brands have a flagship 5G device.”

Counterpoint Research predicts that 5G smartphone sales will see a significant increase in the US once all carriers and smartphone brands are ready with their offerings. Our forecast for the US market for 5G smartphones is more than five million units in 2019.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Tom Kang

Maurice Klaehne


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