Although Apple is a little late to the 5G party, it appears to be overtaking Samsung in 5G sales already. Counterpoint Research reports that the iPhone 12, which went on pre-order on October 16 and started shipping on October 23, was the best selling 5G-enabled smartphone across the world in October. Prior to that, in September, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was the top-selling 5G phone globally. 

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was launched at the start of August, and it took just two weeks for the iPhone 12 to stomp it in sales. The iPhone 12 captured 16 percent of all 5G sales and the iPhone 12 Pro made up 8 percent of total shipments. This means that the two accounted for nearly one-fourth of total 5G smartphone sales in October. 
Note 20 Ultra’s share dropped from 5 percent in September to 4 percent in October, which made it the third-best-selling model. The standard Note 20 and the Galaxy S20 Plus had a share of 2 percent each.

The iPhone 12 also made its way to the top 10 bestseller list of 5G smartphones for January-October, earning the seventh position. 

The performance, though commendable, is not much of a surprise. Long before the iPhone 12 series arrived, analysts were expecting it to take away Samsung’s dominance in the 5G segment. An upgrade supercycle is also reportedly underway, which means sales are stronger than they have been in years.

Counterpoint also believes that there is substantial pent-up demand for 5G devices within the iOS base and it is getting converted into sales now. In the US, where more than a third of iPhone 12 and 12 Pro shipments originated from in October, sales are also getting a boost from carrier promos. The handsets also seem to be doing well in China and Japan. It also helps that the iPhone 12 is available in more than 140 countries, which means it has wider coverage than competing 5G phones.

Popularity of the iPhone 12 could also accelerate the deployment of mmWave 5G

The iPhone 12 models sold in the US also support mmWave 5G, and this increased the penetration of mmWave capable smartphones from 5 percent in September to 12 percent in October. The popularity of the iPhone 12 could incentivize operators to accelerate deployment. This would help Apple lay the groundwork to leverage the power of mmWave in AR/VR.

The demand for Apple’s new smartphones is expected to remain strong through Q4 2020, especially during the holidays. The momentum is expected to continue into early 2021 as a result of the delayed launch of the iPhone 12 series. 

The phones also increased the share of 5G-enabled smartphones to 24 percent for the first time in October.

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