Apple didn’t miss much by missing last year’s 5G sales

Americans bought fewer than 2 million 5G phones in 2019, roughly 1% of the total smartphone market.

apple 5G counterpoint disappointmentFrom Counterpoint’s “Samsung Captures 74% of the 5G Smartphone Sales in 2019 in the USA“:

According to the latest Monthly Smartphone Model Sales Tracker, Counterpoint Research estimates the US market sold under two million 5G NR capable smartphones during 2019 in its first year of the rollout. This only represented 1% of total smartphone sales in 2019. Samsung was the clear leader capturing 74% of the total sales during the year. The Samsung Note 10 Plus 5G was the best-selling 5G smartphone in the USA in 2019.

Speaking about the muted demand in 2019, Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint Research highlighted, “5G smartphone sales were below expectations in the US in 2019 due to multiple reasons. Verizon, the early mover, led with mmWave-only 5G smartphones while AT&T and T-Mobile took a hybrid approach. While Verizon rolled out mmWave in 31 cities it was not overly aggressive pushing consumers to a limited 5G portfolio. AT&T decided it was too risky to sell mmWave-only devices to consumers and sold only via limited business channels. T-Mobile’s mmWave 5G network was only available in six cities with its sub-6GHz 5G coverage being turned on very late in Q4 2019. However, this should change in 2020, as low-band 5G coverage is quickly rolled out.”

My take: After the hyperfast build-up, how could 5G smartphone sales be anything but “below expectations.”


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    5G Smartphone sales will not become a big deal until 5G networks are ubiquitous. It has always been thus.

    Hopefully, carriers will turn on enough 5G networks by September 1 of this year that a 5G iPhone has a chance of gaining traction.

    March 5, 2020
  2. Steven Noyes said:
    The real question is “How many made a purchasing decision on a phone specifically to 5G?”

    My bet that number is between 1% and 10% of the 5G phones sold. That translates to between 20,000 and 200,000 potential lost sales assuming everyone of those lost sales would have even considered an iPhone.

    March 5, 2020
    • Fred Stein said:
      I like the way you think. We need more of that.

      March 5, 2020
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    Good comments above by all commenters.

    Unlike the rest of you, I live in a small community of about 65,000 and in a county (or Parish) with about 100,000. We still wish for solid 4G connection. Candidly, I never have heard a single individual talk about 5G. That is not to say there are folk panting for a 5G phone, but at this early stage I am like Steven wondering just how many of those individuals made their purchasing decision on a phone specifically to get a 5G, especially when the infrastructure isn’t there to support 5G and will not be there fully for a period.

    I do not think it matters for the vast majority of folk at this juncture in their need for a 5G phone. Additionally, I never have read where Apple definitively plans to release a 5G phone in 2020. Apple marches to its own beat with its head down doing its needlework while ignoring the static around it, no matter how loud it may be. Apple may decide to release a 5G phone in 2021.

    March 5, 2020

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