Chinese technology giant, Huawei, ended 2019 as the world’s most prolific producer of 5G enabled smartphone handsets, shifting 6.9 million units overall.
Data published by Strategy Analytics showed that Huawei amassed a 36.9 per cent market share, edging out its rival Samsung by 200,000 units. Samsung’s 6.7 million units gave it a 35.8 per cent market share, at the end of 2019.
“Demand for 5G smartphones is higher than many expected. Fierce vendor competition in China and heavy carrier subsidies across South Korea have been the main drivers of 5G demand. Other regions, like the US and Europe, are lagging behind Asia, but we expect them to close the gap later this year,” said Strategy Analytics’ Ken Hyers.
Last year Huawei released its Mate 20 X 5G and Mate 30 Pro 5G handsets, despite a US ban which left it without access to Google’s Android based services. With China launching its own 5G networks in late 2019, analysts expect Huawei handset sales to sky rocket in the coming months.
In third place, mid-tier handset specialist Vivo racked up 2 million sales in 2019, which gave it an 11 per cent market share.
Chinese brand Xiaomi was in fourth place with 1.2 million 5G smartphone sales in 2019. Xiaomi is gaining traction in Western Europe and has launched its Mi Mix 5G phone in Spain and the UK.
Apple was conspicuous by its absence, failing to launch a 5G ready version of its flagship iPhone handset, as a protracted IP court case with chip supplier Qualcomm blighted its progress in 2019.
“Upcoming 5G models from Apple iPhone and other big brands mean 5G will be the hottest part of the worldwide smartphone market this year. However, the recent coronavirus scare is currently restricting trade in some parts of China and this may well cause a slowdown in 5G supply or demand across Asia or worldwide during the first half of 2020. Industry players should be prepared for bumpy 5G sales in some markets,” Hyers added.