Thailand Smartphone Shipments in Q3 2021 Dropped 14% YoY But 5G Shipments Are Highest Ever

Hong Kong, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – November 22, 2021

Thailand’s smartphone shipments decreased by 14% YoY in Q3 2021, according to Counterpoint Research’s Monthly Thailand Channel Share Tracker. August saw the peak of COVID-19 infection rates in the country, which led to slowing down of the economy. However, 5G smartphone shipments during the quarter were the highest ever.

Commenting on the change in consumer sentiment, Senior Research Analyst Glen Cardoza said, “Thailand’s government and industry made sure to continue with ecosystem improvements in 5G and other telecom infrastructure. However, OEM shipments suffered due to supply constraints. Besides, consumer sentiment was not high enough for smartphone purchases during Q3. As shipments decreased, consumer demand was seen more in the sub-$150 band. The C series of realme and Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy series like A02 did well during this period as consumers preferred economical options. Smartphones in the $400 and above band were still in demand due to many new launches and consistent promotions by OEMs and operators alike.”

Samsung led the shipments in Q3 2021 with a share of 22%. The A-series models, like the A12, A02 and A22, led with bulk shipments. OPPO and Xiaomi followed with 17% each.

Top OEMs’ Market Share in Thailand, Q3 2020 vs Q3 2021

Even as overall shipments decreased, the share of online channels showed a QoQ increase, reaching 24%. This also hints at a strong online channel performance even for Q4 2021. The 9.9 online festival sales in September led to demand growth. Major platforms like Shopee, Lazada and JD Central performed well due to pent-up demand over the first two months of the quarter.

For Thailand, Q4 2021 is looking quite promising when compared with other SEA countries. Thailand has shown potential to absorb COVID-19 impact in the past. Higher range smartphones have a larger market in this country, which will favour OEMs as well. Apple’s iPhone 13 series is most likely to sustain its demand in the coming months.

Counterpoint Research 5G Smartphone Share of Thailand Shipments, Q3 2021 vs Q2 2021

As 5G infrastructure is a priority area, OEMs have also started launching 5G SA (standalone network) compatible models. vivo came out with the V21 5G which supports 5G SA networks. The digital transformation is going well in Thailand with a focus on Industry 4.0. Technology brands like Huawei are at the forefront with their expertise and investments in the country. All these factors will see an increased absorption of 5G, not only for smartphones but also smart homes and other IoT devices.

Analyst Contacts:

Glen Cardoza

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Vietnam Offline Channels Successfully Embracing Online

Vietnam’s mobile phone market is dominated by offline distribution channels. However, responding to the changing times, offline channels have been trying to embrace the online mode, with some of them achieving big success.

Hanoi, the country’s capital, opened in late September after the COVID-19 lockdowns, while Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon), the country’s largest city, opened a little bit later. While hugely impacting the economy, the lockdowns also pushed online sales to new heights. Retailers like Mobile World Group (MWG), which owns the highest number of offline shops in Vietnam, registered record online sales. According to an August financial release, MWG’s online revenue contributed 17.5% of its total revenue with 17% YoY growth, undoubtedly a big achievement for the offline channel giant. Thegiodidong (TGDD) and Dien May Xanh (DMX), the MWG chains selling mobile phones and consumer electronics, together accounted for 51.5% of the total group revenue.

MWG Revenue Share by Channel

TGDD, which means “mobile world” in English, built its standing in the market as a chain of stores selling mobile phones and related 3C products.

Mobile World Group Offline Stores Up to Aug 2021In July this year, COVID-19 started spreading rapidly in Vietnam. More than 70% of the offline stores and shops in the country had to be closed due to the restrictions. The situation worsened in August and September. In Saigon, the military had to be called in to enforce social distancing. Only essential stores and deliverymen were allowed to function in the key cities.

With offline channels dominating Vietnam’s mobile phone retail, the COVID-19 impact was severely felt by major OEMs like Samsung, OPPO and vivo, which had been mainly focusing on building offline retail in the country. Even Xiaomi, an internet brand, had to rely on national distributors to cover main offline channels. The lockdown surely made an impact on these leading brands’ distribution strategies.

In such a situation, offline retailers like TGDD and DMX, which had been strategically investing in online business for a while, reaped unexpected benefits. TGDD and DMX’s website experience is as good as pure e-commerce players in the mobile phone and consumer electronics domain. Apart from TGDD, there are offline store chains like Viettel and FPTShops which have also been investing in online stores at different levels.

With the easing of social distancing norms in many provinces and cities in Vietnam from the second half of September, retail businesses are expected to recover. However, even after regaining normalcy, the shift towards online will not stop.

Not just Vietnam, the whole of Southeast Asian mobile phone and consumer electronics market is heavily dependent on offline channels. But with the pandemic, the region’s leading e-commerce platforms in consumer electronics, like Lazada, Shopee and Tiki, have been reporting robust numbers. On the other hand, offline retail chains have been facing the most painful challenges. Online and offline channel constructions are totally two different business models, requiring two sets of strategies, teams and finance models. Thanks to the solid financial support it gets, TGDD has been able to develop its online business and hence limit the damage due to the lockdowns. Other store chains in the region, such as Jaymart Thailand and Erajaya Indonesia, are also keen to embrace the e-commerce era and the new normal.

For the market, it is a good sign that the distribution structure is evolving and becoming more diverse.

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Telecom, E-commerce Central to China’s Renewed Focus on Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia holds great potential for growth in the technology and e-commerce sectors. It has a comparatively young and tech-savvy demographic which is experiencing a digital transformation jumpstarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even 5G commercialization is being pushed in most of the region’s key countries.

Overall, the US, EU and Japan remain the key investors in Southeast Asia. But this might change with China’s renewed focus on the region. The country has been investing in Southeast Asia across sectors for more than a decade now, with infrastructure projects traditionally bagging more funds. However, China’s influence in the region has increased after the start of its trade tussle with the US. Critical sectors like electricity and telecommunications are now being backed by Chinese investors.

The region’s smartphone landscape went through some volatility after COVID-19. This is when Chinese smartphone OEMs started pulling share from Samsung. Their smartphone share in Southeast Asia has made up a majority for more than a year now. It has increased substantially over the last few quarters. In Q2 2021, main Chinese OEMs made up 75% of the total smartphone shipments.

Counterpoint Research Chinese OEM Share in Key Southeast Asia Markets

E-commerce initiatives by Chinese players

Chinese investors have been increasing their stake in the region’s e-commerce companies for some time now. Since 2017, e-commerce has been the avenue of interest for Chinese investment due to its growth potential and near-absence of any geopolitical challenge for China in the region., Alibaba and Tencent were among the first Chinese investors to pump capital into e-commerce in this region.

Counterpoint Research Major Chinese Investors in Key Ecommerce Companies

5G initiatives by Chinese players

Some countries in the region depend on Chinese technology and know-how. Indonesia has been dependent on Huawei’s 5G technology for more than a year now. The Philippines depends on Chinese telecom infrastructure know-how. In Thailand, Huawei has an active investment in 5G infrastructure. ZTE is another Chinese player with an active role in digital connectivity in the region. These three countries will look to reduce their overall dependence on Chinese tech in the coming months. Currently, however, their goals are focused on 5G development from an economic standpoint. Some countries like Malaysia and Vietnam have given Chinese 5G assistance the cold shoulder.

5G represents a leap in technological growth and overall data sharing. This is an important factor for Southeast Asian countries to consider while partnering with China. Also, such decisions have the potential to become national security issues.

Many major telecom operators in Southeast Asia are lagging in 5G as they still need to recuperate from heavy 4G investments. This is also an area where Chinese capital plays a big part. In contrast, major Chinese smartphone OEMs are ready with 5G devices.


Since some of the region’s countries are global manufacturing hubs (especially Vietnam and Indonesia), Chinese players will look to diversify their own production facilities. As production capacities shift out of China, these OEMs will aim at buying a stake in the region from a production and assembly point of view. The absence of geopolitical issues and growth potential of the region will serve as motivations for these players.

The Chinese influence is currently strong in the region but so are the investments from US behemoths like Microsoft and Google. Southeast Asia will continue to see an influx of funding in the coming years as this region is set to witness an improved economic climate, enhanced industrial system and increased maturity of consumers with respect to tech.

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Online Smartphone Sales in Key SEA Countries at Record High in Aug

Southeast Asia (SEA) has been facing a fresh wave of COVID-19 for the past three months. While the cases are coming down in most of the region, full recovery will take some time. The pandemic has impacted the mobile phone OEMs’ business as most of the region, including the four biggest markets of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, is dominated by offline sales channels. However, the restrictions on movement triggered by COVID-19 have pushed the region’s e-commerce sales and revenue to new levels, just like in other parts of the world.

Counterpoint Research SEA Key Countries’ Smartphone Online Sales Share by Shipments
Source: Counterpoint Research SEA Channel Tracker

Counterpoint Research’s SEA Channel Tracker shows that in August 2021, online smartphone sales share in SEA’s key markets, including Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, reached a record high at 20% of the overall shipments. Apart from the immediate reason of the pandemic, there are other factors pushing this e-commerce growth:

  1. Big Chinese e-commerce players, like Alibaba, and Tencent, and some Singapore investors continue to make strategic investments in SEA markets.
  2. Local investors and tycoons are also keen to be a part of the growth story.
  3. With a median age of around 30, Southeast Asia’s population holds big potential for e-commerce as young people are more likely to try and adopt new things. During the lockdown in September, Vietnamese were told to book vaccination slots online via government channels. Besides helping their families book these slots, young people also assisted them in buying food online.

In the past three years, essential conditions have improved to accelerate the development of e-commerce in the region:

  1. Development of e-wallets and payment gateways: E-commerce giants, ride-hailing services, banks, carriers and even governments are pushing e-wallet penetration. In the past, with the traditional banking systems, the rate of bank account ownership was relatively low in SEA. This was due to the inability of many to provide the documents required to open a bank account. But this changed with the new technology and mechanism of e-wallets.

Leading E-wallets in SEA’s Key Countries, 2021

  1. Logistics improvement: Besides the traditional local logistics companies, foreign logistics giants and investors have also set up subsidiaries or invested in existing players in the region to support e-commerce.
  2. Platform incentives: Typical cases are the e-commerce giants Shopee and Lazada, which have big sales events every year. These have more than 30 big and small promotions in which the platforms, together with the merchants, offer various subsidies and discounts to encourage online purchases.

Smartphone OEMs are becoming more and more mature in online channel strategy and planning:

  1. OEMs or local distributors have dedicated teams to manage online channels.
  2. Online-exclusive models are being designed. They have a special channel margin structure. An attractive price point is one of the most essential requirements for online sales conversion.
  3. Factors such as flagship online stores and 7-14 days unconditional return policy are convincing the consumers about the credibility of online channels.

We strongly believe that Southeast Asia will be the next e-commerce hotspot and smartphone OEMs will surely ride this wave.

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No Let-up in India Refurbished Smartphone Market Boom

India is a booming market for pre-owned smartphones. The market showed its potential in 2019 when it grew the most globally. Even in 2020, the second half of the year more than made up for the volumes lost in the first half, according to Counterpoint’s Global Refurb Smartphone Tracker. This year too, the market is expected to report stellar numbers.

Counterpoint Research India Refurbished Smartphone Market Forecast 2020 - 2024
Source: Global Refurbished Smartphone Tracker

Important factors shaping the Indian market

Importing pre-owned smartphones into India for usage is curtailed by the government. But that does not slow down the players dealing with volumes in the refurb market. Although India is relatively self-sufficient with supply compared to other countries, one of the main challenges is a complex and unstructured chain in the value system.

The brands and models which sold 2-3 years ago are the ones that make up the bulk of the supply in the secondary markets. Therefore, the players do not have control over what brands or models come their way. Similarly, the level of repair or refurbishment differs across volumes. Refurb players then have to take a call on which ones can be taken in and which need to be disposed of to others in the chain.

While brands like Apple have the most demand, they also command a premium price in the Indian secondary market. Unlike others, Indian consumers have also shown an affinity towards Chinese brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo.

The online channel for buybacks and resale activities has been present in the refurbished smartphone market for a while now. Most large players already have online platforms which are promoted well to ensure convenience. This holds true for metro and Tier I cities. However, the strategy to tap rural areas needs to be different. These areas hold a high potential and that is why players are keen to gain volumes at the earliest.

Refurb Player Categories in India

2021 Outlook

  • As online sales of new smartphones increase, more consumers choose to trade in their devices, which provides an added supply to the secondary markets.
  • Increasing volumes are flowing in from Tier II, III and IV towns. These geographies also represent the highest potential for refurbished smartphone demand.
  • Consumers who previously chose to sell to friends/acquaintances or small neighborhood stores are looking at selling to structured businesses with an online presence and doorstep options. This spells value for the consumer in the form of money and convenience.

There is a need to structure the vast unorganized secondary smartphone market in India but currently, players are looking at gaining volumes in a market where the potential is very high.

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Southeast Asia Perks Up, Boosts Smartphones

Southeast Asia (SEA) has been showing consistent economic promise for a while now. The changing landscape is giving the smartphone sector a much-needed boost as well. Four players have a pivotal role in this sector.

Initiatives from 4 major players are changing the ecosystem in Southeast Asia

While government support in key SEA countries has resulted in a faster rollout of 5G infrastructure, most governments are currently focused on COVID-19 vaccination and jump-starting the economy. In the parallel, Thailand continues to concentrate on advanced 5G utilization, while countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam are focusing on solidifying their 5G infrastructure and increasing coverage.


The main operators in the key SEA countries are not only concentrating on increasing their 5G coverage but also making sure they sustain a healthy 4G network. Rural focus is helping them raise subscription levels as well. Their consistent tie-ups with OEMs are giving a push to bundled packages and 5G (especially in metros and Tier I cities). This will continue to increase at a YoY level, even after Q4 2021.

From merging telecom operators in Indonesia to industrial applications being pursued in Thailand, 5G connectivity is growing stronger in this region.

Even consumers who had not considered 5G during their most recent purchase of a smartphone, will consider it strongly in the future.


New 5G smartphone launches in the mid-tier price band have been all the rage in this region. The ASPs for these 5G phones will go down for upcoming models from top brands like realme. This will lead to an increase in upgrades.

Brands like OPPO, Xiaomi and realme are adding consumer IoT products, like smart speakers, to purchase deals which is good exposure for their IoT portfolio in these markets. For brands like Xiaomi, the IoT segment makes up 10% of total revenue in some markets.

As the markets open, brands are also increasing their offline footprint. Xiaomi is looking to increase its sales outlets from 38 to more than 100 within this year. The brand is also making sure its after-sales network is geographically widespread. Xiaomi and realme stand out here.


The “9.9” shopping festival saw some big investments and celebrity endorsements on online platforms like Shopee. Other big players across SEA, like Lazada and Tokopedia, also spent on marketing campaigns and tie-ups with brands, events and celebrities.

Online sales are one of the biggest reasons for consumers to indulge in shopping towards the end of the year.

Whether it is ‘live shopping’ on Tokopedia or increasing Korean influence with music groups like BTS, consumers can relate to this association. The main SEA economies may see their highest ever online smartphone shipments in Q4 2021. With COVID-19 infection rates going down in most SEA countries, the only deterrent here is component shortages affecting supply.


Q3 2021 saw governments in Indonesia and Vietnam giving emphasis to essential items. As infection rates went down in August and September, vaccination for the manufacturing sector was given priority. Starting September, most production facilities in Vietnam resumed normal operations and scaled up to make provisions for Q4 demand.

All the above factors play in favor of a very productive and lucrative smartphone season in Q4 2021. All key SEA countries are likely to show more than 20% growth over Q3 2021 and a healthy YoY increase as well. Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines will show a higher online share in smartphone shipments.

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Smartphone Shipments Grow 12% YoY in Key Southeast Asian Countries in Q1 2021

Hong Kong, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – June 10, 2021

The smartphone market in the four major Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines recorded a 12% YoY growth in Q1 2021, according to Counterpoint’s Global Smartphone Channel Share Tracker. Online sales grew 45% compared to the same period last year, accounting for 16% of the total market.

Looking at the growth rate of these markets, Indonesia (the biggest economy) saw YoY growth of 4%. Though relatively smaller, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam markets saw high YoY growth rates of 13%, 19% and 26% respectively.

YoY Increase in Smartphone Shipments in Key Southeast Asian Markets, Q1 2021

Top brands and their performance

OPPO led the brand share with 22% while Samsung and vivo ranked second and third with 19% and 16% shares respectively. OPPO, which has recently achieved good results in China, managed to maintain its No. 1 position in the Southeast Asian markets in the first quarter. OPPO’s A series and Reno series have proved to be successful in these markets.

Apple registered good results due to the popularity of the iPhone 12. The brand ranked sixth with a 6% market share in Q1 2021. Transsion Group brands, especially Infinix and TECNO, have been doing well in these Southeast Asian markets.

The competition in this region is getting fiercer thanks to a maturing ecosystem, increasingly tech-savvy and young population, and growing online dependence over the last year.

Exhibit 2: Online Smartphone Sales Share by OEM, Q1 2021

Along with the growth in online sales, there is an increased cohesiveness between OEMs and telecom operators as well. In addition, 5G infrastructure and 5G commercialization are moving ahead at a brisk pace. The proportion of 5G compatible smartphones will increase in 2021. Even with the recent COVID-19 resurgence, we remain optimistically cautious about this region and its potential.

Note: There have been some revisions in the overall and country-level YoY growth percentages for Q1 2021. Brand market shares remain the same.


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.

Analyst Contacts:

Glen Cardoza

Follow Counterpoint Research

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Online Smartphone Sales to Hit a New High Amid COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, online channels for smartphone sales are benefiting from the change in buying patterns, according to the latest Counterpoint Research report on online smartphone sales growth. The share of online channel sales in total global smartphone sales was around 20% last year. We expect this figure to reach 23% this year.

India continues to lead in online sales, with 40% of all smartphones being sold online during Q1 this year. The UK recorded 35% and China 30% share of online sales. On the other hand, countries with strong offline distribution and carrier control, such as the US, Japan and South Korea, saw relatively low online sales.

Counterpoint Online Handset Sales by Key Country - Q1 2020

United States

The US recorded 14% share of online smartphone sales in 2019, which rose to 17% as COVID-19 started to spread in the country. In terms of brands, Apple dominated online sales with 44% share. Its iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max were the bestsellers in both online and offline channels. Samsung’s Galaxy A10e was the No. 3 best-selling model in the online channel.

Counterpoint US Top 5 Smartphones Q1 2020India

As much as 40% of India’s smartphone sales came from online channels in the first quarter of 2020. Flipkart hosted half of online sales during the quarter. The online market saw sales rise following the implementation of lockdowns and social distancing measures due to COVID-19. Xiaomi was the leading brand in online channels across the country, accounting for 51% of total online sales. The company saw 67% of its total sales happening online during Q1 2020. In contrast, Vivo sold only 11% of its phones online.

Counterpoint India Smartphone Sales by Channel Q1 2020China

Online smartphone sales in China reached 30% in the first quarter of 2020. led among online platforms while Huawei smartphones ranked first in both online and offline channels. The top two brands in online were Honor and Xiaomi.

Counterpoint China Smartphone Sales by Channel Q1 2020Other Markets
Europe, CIS, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa all showed growth in online sales.
Omnichannel innovation is currently gathering steam in the European consumer market and driving the growth of online channels.

In Latin America, online stores of major electronic retailers and department stores drive the online market, with mid- and low- priced models from Samsung and Motorola popular here.

Southeast Asia is the region with steepest growth in overall e-commerce recently. Lazada is the leader in smartphone sale channels in Southeast Asia and holds almost 60% share.


COVID-19 is a global crisis which is also changing the purchasing behavior of users worldwide. In our view, this change will continue even after the pandemic is over as it may have permanently affected the financial strength of certain distribution channels, for better or worse. Brands leveraging the growth of online will definitely ride the tide this year and next.

A detailed report on online smartphone sales is available here for subscribers.

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