OnePlus Bucks US Smartphone Market Trend in 2020

Boston, Denver, Toronto, London, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – February 3, 2021

The year 2020 was tough for many OEMs as the overall smartphone market declined 15% YoY. Almost all of the major OEMs saw negative growth in 2020. It was only in H2 2020 that we started seeing signs of market recovery. In Q3 2020 and Q4 2020, the market saw sequential quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth, mainly due to a strong rebound in Apple and Samsung premium device sales. Stimulus money and added unemployment benefits helped keep the economy from declining further. In H2 2020, more businesses began reopening following a drop in COVID-19 cases. Retailers and carrier stores also adopted more online sales strategies, which helped with the recovery.

OnePlus as a Bright Spot in Declining Market

OnePlus continued to be a challenger brand in 2020 as it was able to grow its channel presence and overall size from a small base 163% YoY. While Apple and Samsung did post YoY gains in Q4 2020, their overall market sell-through was down for 2020. Other OEMs such as Motorola, LG and Google either faced supply issues or saw demand for their devices decline. The demand decrease was more strongly seen in the prepaid market.

OnePlus showed strong growth, especially in carrier channels. It has long had a relationship with T-Mobile, starting with the OnePlus 6T in late 2018, and has continued launching new devices in Sprint starting 2019. It even expanded into Verizon in 2020 with the OnePlus 8 UW. T-Mobile continues to be the largest source of sales for OnePlus, with the OEM doubling down with new low-cost devices that are now even available in prepaid channels.

US Smartphone OEM Sell-through Growth, 2019-2020

OnePlus was able to achieve this growth by appealing to consumers who became disenfranchised with current premium smartphone offerings. iPhone prices have increased, especially with the iPhone 12, while Samsung Galaxy S20 devices also saw a price increase due to 5G support. Average selling prices (ASPs) for premium smartphones have continued to rise over the last year. While most consumers acquiesced to this market shift, there were still some that preferred to look for more affordable alternatives.

Looking Towards 2021 for Opportunities

OnePlus remains a small OEM despite the strong growth in 2020. Further expansion into prepaid will help OnePlus, especially since the brand was initially known as a value brand that provided strong hardware features. The OnePlus N10 5G already lives up to this promise, providing one of the first smartphones with a 90Hz refresh rate in the sub-$300 price band.

Other opportunities may come if OnePlus can demonstrate it is a reliable supplier partner that can meet the demands of carriers and other retailers, especially those looking to fill specific price bands or hit certain refresh deadlines.

For complete analysis, see ‘Challenger Brand OnePlus Grows in a Declining US Smartphone Market in 2020; What Lies Ahead?


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.

Maurice Klaehne is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based out of Boston, USA. He has spent more than five years working as a market researcher and strategy consultant heavily focused on emerging markets and uncovering new growth opportunities for his clients which include business service, CPG, healthcare, and life science companies. Maurice holds a Master’s in International Development and Management from Sweden’s Lund University, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development from Canada’s McGill University. He is a native German speaker and also speaks fluent French.

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