US Smartphone Market on Road to Recovery with 31% QoQ Growth in Q3 2020

  • More than 20% of all smartphone sales are now coming from online orders.
  • Apple and Samsung register YoY growth in an otherwise declining market.
  • The iPhone 11, iPhone SE and iPhone 11 Pro Max topped the bestseller chart.

New York, Boston, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – November 10, 2020

The US market saw a 31% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) increase in smartphone sales in Q3 2020, according to the latest figures from Counterpoint Research’s Monthly US Channel Share Tracker. This is still down 6% year-on-year (YoY) but marks a strong rebound in sales during the peak stay-at-home and lockdown orders due to COVID-19.

QoQ US Smartphone Sell-Through Growth Q3 2019 - Q3 2020

Commenting on the rebound, Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said, “The third quarter saw a good rebound in sales due to a few key OEMs outperforming the market despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Apple and Samsung both registered YoY growth in an otherwise declining market. Among operators, T-Mobile had an outstanding quarter, beating expectations for net additions. AT&T and Verizon also registered positive net-addition growth. Over the last months, states have begun easing restrictions, including allowing longer store hours and bigger occupancy numbers. This has enabled more carrier and national retail stores to reopen. But since store traffic is still down compared to last year, all major channels are also improving their online ordering and support systems. We believe that more than 20% of all sales are now coming from online orders. For the upcoming holiday season and iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini launch, we expect this percentage to eclipse 40%.”

Fieldhack added, “While we are seeing some positive signs, the US is still facing large unemployment numbers and Congress has not yet agreed on another round of stimulus money. July was a strong month for smartphone sales due to a combination of pent-up demand and remaining stimulus money fueling growth. However, both August and September saw month-on-month declines, resulting in an overall 6% YoY decline.”

Commenting on top models for the quarter, Senior Analyst Hanish Bhatia said, “The iPhone 11 remained the number one seller in the US market. It has remained the top seller for four consecutive quarters due to its $699 price point hitting the sweet spot for many consumers. The iPhone 11 has also been on an almost continuous promotion, often sold for $0 or $5 with eligible trade-ins within postpaid channels. The iPhone SE and iPhone 11 Pro Max were the number two and three top sellers.”

Looking towards Q4 2020, Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne said, “Apple has done a nice job maintaining momentum, but its sales slowed down in September as postpaid iOS consumers were awaiting either new 5G devices or cost-eroded iPhones. The iPhone 12 launches in October and November will likely help Apple maintain this positive growth in Q4 as carriers are heavily promoting both port-in and upgrade deals. Early sales feedback indicates that Apple is moving a large base of customers over to the iPhone 12 series, with stronger sales YoY. Samsung is also preparing for the Q4 holiday season with higher memory variant edition of the Galaxy S20 FE, while continuously promoting its A-series and Note 20 line-up. Against the backdrop of a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases, we are seeing more purchases through online channels, which has greatly helped maintain smartphone sales.”