Samsung and Huawei pull ahead in global 5G phone market

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG.
(Image credit: Huawei)

According to Strategy Analytics, a research company specialising in market dynamics, 5G phones shipments grew to 24.1 million in the first quarter of 2020. And China is currently the leader in demand for 5G phones, but other markets such as South Korea, the US and Europe and now starting to catch up.

This figure, as expected, significantly exceeds the number of5G smartphones shipped for the entire year in 2019 – 18.7 million – with demand being particularly strong in China, despite the emergence of the coronavirus epidemic.  

The battle for first place was a close on, but it was the South Korean giant Samsung that beat out Huawei, shipping 8.3 million 5G phones across the world during the quarter (34.4% of the global total). And this was obviously powered by the lauch of Samsung's flagship S20 series.

Huawei came very close to Samsung, shipping 8 million 5G phones, which, considering the year Huawei had outside of China, is hugely impressive, and takes the company to second place globally. Nearly all of Huawei’s 5G smartphones were shipped in China, where it is the smartphone market leader. And the top 5G smartphone from Huawei is the Mate 30, Honor V30 Pro and Mate 30 Pro.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Global 5G Smartphone Vendor Shipments and Marketshare (Q1 2020, Strategy Analytics)
ManufacturerUnits shipped (million)Marketshare by vendor (%)
Huawei (inc. Honor)8.033.2%

China leads the 5G race

"As China continues to ramp up economic activity, we expect 5G shipments to this market to continue to expand dramatically in 2020.”

Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics expects that 5G shipments will “continue to expand dramatically in 2020,” thanks to demand from China, but didn’t offer further predictions on other territories. 

“Chinese smartphone vendors captured 61 percent of top 5 vendor 5G smartphone shipment volumes in Q1 2020, with the majority of those volumes going to the Chinese market," said Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston. “This reflects the speed with which Chinese operators have rolled out 5G networks, as well as the underlying demand for 5G smartphones, despite the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down large parts of China during the Q1 2020 period. As China continues to ramp up economic activity, we expect 5G shipments to this market to continue to expand dramatically in 2020.”

Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo made up the rest of the top five slots, taking 27% of global 5G phone shipments. Vivo came in at number three, capturing a 12 percent, with its handsets seen as affordable alternatives to more expensive models.

Last year Global Analytics reported that Apple would lead in 5G smartphone shipments in 2020, which was based entirely on the belief that the first 5G iPhones would ship in September, but the coronavirus pandemic has reportedly pushed back Apple's production schedule, to the point where it is unlikely to challenge Samsung and Huawei in 2020.

The Complete Guide to 5G - free 23-page PDF download.

(Image credit: Future)
Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.