Latin America Smartphones Still Feeling Supply Constraint Headwinds

  • LATAM smartphone shipments decreased 5.8% YoY in Q1 2022.
  • Samsung led the market with 44.3% share followed by Motorola with 17.1% share.

Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego – June 8, 2022

Q1 2022 smartphone shipments dropped 5.8% YoY, affected by supply constraints, mainly among the Chinese brands. Also, last year’s first quarter sell-in was especially high making year on year comparisons tough. The supply issues are improving but might continue to be a drag for the rest of the year.

Commenting on the market dynamics, Principal Analyst Tina Lu said: “During Q1 2022, OEMs in LATAM (includes the Caribbean and Latin America) were in a fierce price war, which mitigated the impact of consumer demand that started to contract, but it might not be the same moving forward, especially in the mid-high price band segment smartphones. 5G devices volume and penetration continue to grow; in Q1 2022, 5G devices represented 15% of the smartphones sold in the region. Brazil, Mexico and Chile lead 5G-enabled sales volume and penetration share. Samsung overtook Apple to become the leading vendor in 5G-enabled device sales.”

Top Smartphone OEMs’ Market Share in Latin America, Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022

Source: Counterpoint Research Q1 2022 Market Monitor


Lu added: “Chinese brands might not yet have the power to drive growth. Samsung increased its share in the region and continued leading the LATAM market, driven by Brazil and shipments of the Galaxy A 03 model family. Motorola’s shipment decline was caused by the Chinese New Year and other supply chain disruptions. This impacted it in most markets except for Argentina. Xiaomi decreased share slightly, impacted by supply chain issues, but it increased its ASP.”

Market Growth in Latin America Biggest Countries, Q1 2022

Source: Counterpoint Research Q1 2022 Market Monitor

Commenting on country performance, Research Analyst Andres Silva, said: “Most of LATAM’s biggest countries followed the regional trend of YoY declines, except for Chile, which slightly improved. Chile is one of the most stable countries in the region. Mexico was flat YoY, fueled by Chinese brands entering the market and increased competition. Samsung is also resolving its issues with Telcel. Brazilian local manufacturing/assembly improved, but it is still impacted by component supply chain shortages.”

Q1 2022 Market Summary

  • Samsung retained leadership in all LATAM markets.
  • Samsung’s volumes declined YoY and QoQ, impacted by the decline in shipments from its Vietnam factory. But sell-in volume still outpaced most Chinese brands, so its share increased YoY and QoQ. Telcel Mexico’s issue with Samsung is slowly settling. Samsung did not have enough supply in the entry-level segment, so it saw a slight YoY decrease in its sales volume in this segment, particularly in Brazil and Mexico.
  • Motorola’s shipments dropped YoY and QoQ. Its sales declined following a lack of supply due to the Lunar New Year break in China and inventory issues.
  • Xiaomi continued to grow YoY, though it dropped compared to the previous quarter. It is strengthening its position in the region. But most of its volume is based on the Xiaomi Redmi Note series. It will need to become more aggressive with its entry-level A series to continue to grow in LATAM. Xiaomi is offering aggressive pricing and promotions, but still lacks strong brand recognition. The brand is facing some high inventory issues in its mid-high price segment models.
  • In Q1 2022, Xiaomi officially entered the Argentina market, but did not immediately make much headway achieving only 1% market share through April 2022.
  • Since the beginning of 2022, Apple’s supply into the region increased YoY in most of its markets resulting in the brand’s share increasing. Apple is expensive for the region’s average consumer but is considered a desirable brand. So, countries with high ASPs, such as Chile and, to a lesser extent, Brazil, account for most of its volume in the region.
  • ZTE continued to be the principal provider of entry-level devices with most of its sales coming from <$100 models.
  • Others brands continued to drop YoY as the Chinese new year and component shortages impact smaller Chinese brands and local brands, especially in the entry-level segment.



Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It serves 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.


Analyst Contacts:

Tina Lu

+54 91160411221

Andres Silva

+57 3004929435

Peter Richardson

+44 7917231934

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10 Predictions for LATAM Smartphone, Devices Ecosystem in 2021

The LATAM smartphone and devices ecosystem has been one of the least impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the trends mentioned below started in 2020 and will further strengthen in 2021. The pandemic has shown that technology and devices are essential allies through a calamity and will thus contribute to steering the LATAM economy back to growth.

  1. LATAM will have at least 22 operators launching 5G networks. But all of them will have limited coverage, with most of them being non-standalone (NSA) networks. These 22 will be in addition to the nine operators which launched 5G services during 2020.
  2. At least six LATAM countries will auction 5G compatible spectrum. Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru have announced plans to auction spectrum that will enable operators to deploy stand-alone (SA) networks and offer commercial 5G plans.
  3. 5G smartphones will start to take off in 2021, but not quite. 5G phones will unlikely bag more than 5% share in the region. Apple and Samsung will drive the growth of this segment in LATAM during 2021. Although 5G technology will reach the $150-$200 price band smartphones, buyers under this band will instead focus on having a better camera, a bigger screen, or more memory. 5G will not drive smartphone replacement in the region.


Exhibit 1: LATAM Technology Share, 2018-2021

Counterpoint Research LATAM Technology Share, 2018-2021
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor and Market Outlook, Q3 2020
  1. The market will see double digit growth in 2021. Although the overall economy will continue to struggle, smartphone sales in 2021 are expected to grow more than 19% YoY. Even if there is a second or third wave of COVID-19, the demand will not decline. It will decline only when there is some disruption in the supply chain.
  2. Chinese brands’ participation will grow, but slowly. Huawei’s share will continue to decline. Despite the regime change in the US, the trade ban on the company is unlikely to be lifted soon. Many Chinese brands are entering the region, seeking to grab the share shed by Huawei.
  3. Smartphone ASP might return to growth.In 2020, the ASP decreased slightly but consistently each quarter. The entry of newcomers with aggressive plans may trigger a price war. This will benefit consumers and convince them to spend slightly more while acquiring a new smartphone.
  4. Several countries will increase taxes on smartphones. As COVID-19 left many economies shuttered and some governments broke, smartphones will come under the tax scanner in many countries. Although the OEMs might absorb a part of the increased cost, it will ultimately impact the overall smartphone market ASP.
  5. Online channels will see an increase in smartphone sales. Online sales are here to stay. In 2020, online sales in LATAM increased by at least 60% YoY. This growth will continue in 2021 but at a slower pace, trapped by the reality that only 55% of the region’s adult population has access to the banking system (according to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion), compared to 95% in Europe.
  6. Contactless payment technology to see increasing adoption. COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of this technology in LATAM. All leading banks in LATAM are now launching an NFC (near-field communication) payment platform. Companies like Samsung, Mercado Libre and Facebook are also looking to tap into this trend. On the other end, an increasing number of stores are acquiring contactless payment technology. As the pandemic is still on, this trend will grow.
  7. IoT devices will surge in the region. With the pandemic, many businesses have realized that it is essential to accelerate digital transformation to stay efficient. On the other hand, operators are pushing IoT solutions while looking for a new stream of revenue. At the consumer level, as many people continue to remain stranded at home, smart home and hearable devices will receive an extra boost. In particular, devices related to security, home entertainment and household tasks will be in demand.

Key Takeaways from the 2019 Latin American Telecommunications Congress

The 2019 edition of the Congresso Latinoamericano de Telecomunicaciones (CLT), the annual Latin American forum on public policy for information and communication technology (ICT) was held in Cordoba, Argentina recently. The four-day event saw the attendance of most of the important regulators, including Ajit Pai, the chairman of the US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Counterpoint Research also attended the event.

Deliberations mainly centered around four key issues that will have an impact on the future of the telecom landscape in the region over the coming years – the need to have more efficient and effective spectrum management and auctions, connecting the disconnected, regulations, as well as security, privacy, and data protection. Below are the key takeaways of the deliberations at the event.

  • Spectrum Management and Auction (4G-IoT-5G)

The incoming 5G technology will need much more spectrum than any of the previous generations. But before getting to 5G, efficient and effective sprectrum management and auction needs to start right now with 4G and IoT, as LATAM lags in the rollout of 4G and has not yet started the meaningful rollout of cellular-IoT.

There are delays in 4G spectrum auction in many countries, and several operators are still waiting for spectrum to increase their network coverage.  The introduction of 5G will require even more spectrum to cover the low, mid, and high bands. Concrete action is required to ensure that LATAM countries do not fall behind in obtaining the spectrum required for IoT and 5G. So far, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico have announced their intention to auction 5G spectrum.

Exhibit 1: LATAM 5G Spectrum Adoption Announced



Discussions at the 2019 CLT was on whether spectrum auction should be a tradeoff between cash or service. Some countries treat spectrum as a cash cow and believe auctions will bring much-needed funds to government coffers.  Others, such as Chile, understand that it will be more efficient if the distribution of spectrum requires the operator to compete in tenders instead of paying a fixed fee. This methods sets targets for the operator for network rollout to increase coverage as well as supply of access devices.

  • Connecting the Disconnected 

There are around 100 million people in LATAM that still don’t have access to the internet and an additional 80 million that don’t have adequate access to the internet. According to regulators, associations, like ASIET (Inter-American Association of Telecommunications Companies) and many private companies acknowledge that access to the internet will provide economic benefit. However, there is still not an adequate understanding of the digital divide.

The gap is not due to a lack of supply. Some form of internet, wired or wireless, covers almost 85% of LATAM population. But only 55% is connected. The problem lies in the lack of the ability of the population to pay for the service.

Most LATAM regulators have a budget to decrease the access gap. There is an El Servicio Universal (Universal Access) fund in most LATAM countries.  However, these funds are highly underutilized. The main problem is regulatory as the public sector does not know how or where to deploy the money. Further, the public sector is slow to formulate any type of regulation, and as a result, not much gets done. LATAM regulators know that they need to speed up ideation and implementation.

In Brazil, for example, the telecom regulator Anatel is working on driving “Gobierno Digital” to attract more investment and connect the 30% of the population that does not have internet access. Brazil has set a target to bring down the percentage of the population without internet access to 10% in 2025. Another example is Colombia, which is sitting on almost US$90 million for providing internet access. While the government gets the interest from the fund, current laws prevent the regulator from doing much about putting to use the fund for increasing internet access.

  • Regulations

There is a need for new and updated policies, that would not only regulate current telecom operators but would also include other players in today’s communication ecosystem.  Companies such as Facebook, one of the sponsors of this event, are as incumbent as a traditional operator. Therefore, LATAM countries need a more modern, flexible, and convergent regulation.

The other issue is multiple regulators. Currently, most countries have more than one regulatory entity in charge of all regulatory process. Further, each municipal area has its own rules. This makes the network rollout a hideous bureaucratic burden for the operator. There is a need for unifying regulatory entities within a country to align the national, provincial, and municipal processes. Recently in Argentina, a judge ruled that a municipal body cannot overrule the national order allowing the building of antennas. This was a good precedent and other countries, such as Colombia and Brazil, agree with the need to bring in such practices into their countries.

  • Privacy

Security and privacy are necessary across all verticals. This issue came up as IoT is still in its infancy in LATAM, and 5G might take few years before it enters LATAM.  There is a lot to do about it as security and privacy are key for IoT and 5G success. Many regulators already acknowledge that this is an important issue and are taking the companies and industry associations.

Besides the four major issues, the event also saw discussions around harmonization of the network to make roaming easier across LATAM. Many LATAM countries are in favor of slowly working on removing roaming charges.  This would require even more harmonization in the frequency used. Further, interesting deliberations also took place on the need to close the gender gap in terms of access to appropriate technology as well as encouraging girls in Science Tech and Mathematics (STEM) careers. While there is a necessity to connect those at the bottom, it is equally important to bridge the gender gap when it comes to internet access.

The theme of the 2019 CLT was ‘Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Latin America’. To achieve this, LATAM needs to learn from its past mistakes. Most LATAM countries have enough experience to understand that they not only need to work together, but also with the technology leaders to accelerate digital transformation in the region.

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