US consumers fail to register 5G buzz – analyst

Despite there being aggressive marketing campaigns to drive awareness of 5G, Canalys suggests uptake of the devices has been modest best.

While Apple stormed into the number one spot for smartphone shipments across the second quarter of 2020, Samsung struggled to shift its flagship devices, as 5G failed to blossom in a market dominated by COVID-19.

“As the coronavirus pandemic forced consumers to stay at home, 5G adoption in the US failed to take off,” said Analyst Vincent Thielke.

“Store closures and virus fears limited interaction with demonstration models, tight consumer budgets further constrained spending power, and with scarce 5G network coverage in American suburbia, consumers saw plenty of reasons to buy a 4G device instead.”

The impact of COVID-19 is certainly an interesting one for the telecoms industry to contemplate. Firstly, pressure on consumer spending will be heightened over the coming months, perhaps forcing a delay on any big ticket spend. Secondly, societal lockdown certainly slowed down 5G deployment in the US, a market which has always struggle to evenly distribute connectivity on the same trajectory.

Both of these elements add up to a weakened business case for 5G-compatible devices. 2020 was supposed to be the year of 5G, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the vast expenditure of upgrading. The average selling price of devices during this quarter declined by almost 10%.

According to the estimates, Samsung shipped 59% fewer Galaxy S20 5G series handsets than S10 series models in the same period of 2019. It does appear the case to upgrade is not there just yet, though Samsung’s woes in this market are amplified when put next to the success of Apple. The iPhone SE has proved immensely popular during this period, though it remains to be seen whether this dampens demand for an Apple 5G device which could potentially be launched in September or October.

US smartphone shipment estimates – Q2 2020 (in millions)
Manufacturer Q2 2020 Shipments Q2 2020 Market share
Apple 15.0 47.1%
Samsung 7.4 23.2%
LG 3.5 11.0%
Lenovo 2.2 6.9%
TCL 1.3 4.0%
Others 2.4 7.7%


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