The big picture: It's not a secret that we are no longer upgrading phones as often as we used to, but industry watchers believe 2019 will be the worst year for handsets since 2015, when they were at their peak. Huawei still sells a growing number of phones, but US-China tensions are having a measurable impact on its ability to preserve that momentum. Samsung and Xiaomi benefitted from this, but Apple on the flipside is having a harder time selling its iPhones and keeping its existing ones glued to the platform.
A year ago, the smartphone landscape looked as if Huawei had the right ingredients to dominate the market, after managing to move past Apple in the number of devices shipped. And despite the trade war between the U.S. and China, the Chinese company has been inching closer to Samsung, who currently still holds dearly to its top spot.
In its latest report, Kantar notes that while Huawei did manage a modest growth in the second quarter of 2019 when compared to the same period last year, it's overall share is down almost 2% in Europe. More telling is the fact that the brunt of it happened in the last two months when the Trump administration sent mixed messages about its stance on the Huawei ban. That, along with news that it would lay off hundreds of U.S. workers likely left Huawei fans and potential buyers hanging until they get a better idea of the situation.
Samsung, Apple, and Xiaomi sold more phones in Europe as a result but didn't manage to replicate that in the U.S., where Google and Motorola have continued to make gains. The latter in particular sold its Moto E5 Plus and G6 Plus very well through Verizon, which is why it now holds 8.1% of the U.S. market.
Apple's iOS share dropped a little in both Europe and the U.S. - where it was slightly more noticeable at 2.4%. About one in three phones sold in Q2 2019 in the U.S. was an iPhone, and one in five in Europe. The three best-selling iPhones in America were the XR, 8 and XS Max, with iPhone XR taking the crown at almost 8% of total smartphones shipped. In China, Huawei with its Honor subbrand sells one in every two phones, while Apple has also reached a respectable share of 19.7%.
Huawei isn't the only one feeling the pressure of trade tensions, as Apple also stands to lose about a third of its profits if China were to ban its products, which are moderately successful in the country. On another note, trade-in site BankMyCell says - via Cnet - that iPhone owners are increasingly looking at Samsung's Galaxy line for their next purchase.
The analysis was made between Q4 2018 and Q2 2019 and shows that Apple brand loyalty is down from 92% to 70%, which arguably is still a respectable figure. One in every four people trading in their iPhone X moved to an Android brand, while just a little under 8% of Samsung users switched to an iPhone. It's also worth noting the study is using data from a relatively small sample of 38,000 people, but it does paint a familiar picture of Apple neglecting some of their users with a renewed focus on services that squeeze additional revenue from its loyal users.
To put things in perspective, Gartner says the whole smartphone market is set up for a disappointing 2019, estimating that 68 million fewer smartphones will be sold this year. With 5G expected to become commonplace in 2021, and foldable phones set to reach a modest adoption level in the next few years, it's hard for most people to justify upgrading to a newer phone - even as the wealth of great choices make it the best time to do so.