Apple could beat Samsung and Huawei to become the leader in 5G smartphones next year, even though it's late to the game

Apple could beat Samsung and Huawei to become the leader in 5G smartphones next year, even though it's late to the game

Tim Cook

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images

  • Apple could lead the 5G smartphone market next year, despite the fact that it's one of the few major smartphone makers that hasn't launched a 5G phone yet, according to Strategy Analytics.
  • Apple is expected to bring 5G support to all three of its new iPhones next year.
  • If Apple's 2020 iPhones match upgrade rates for this year's new iPhones, Apple could claim the top spot in the 5G smartphone market, according to the research firm.
  • That position may be short-lived, however, as Strategy Analytics predicts that Samsung will claim the top spot in the long term.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple could surpass Samsung and Huawei to lead the market for 5G smartphones in 2020, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.

The study reiterates the sentiment that Wall Street analysts have shared in the past about Apple's 2020 flagship, several of which have said that next year's iPhone could be the catalyst for bringing Apple's iPhone business back to growth.

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Apple is one of the few major device makers that has yet to release a 5G-enabled smartphone. Samsung, LG, Motorola, and OnePlus have all launched devices that are capable of connecting to 5G, even though such networks are still sparse in the United States.

But that won't stop Apple from claiming a dominant portion of the 5G phone market next year, according to Strategy Analytics. If the three new 5G-enabled iPhones that Apple is expected to release next year match upgrade rates for this year's iPhones, the company could very well take the lead next year, the research firm said.


However, that spot at the top could be short-lived, as the report also notes that Samsung is expected to reclaim the lead in the long term following 2020. That's largely because Samsung is already the biggest smartphone maker in the world by market share. And as 5G networks become deployed more widely in the coming years, 5G will probably become the standard across most of Samsung's smartphones.

Samsung currently offers its flagship Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 phones in both 5G and non-5G variants, with the 5G versions being more expensive. Apple, comparatively, is expected to implement 5G across all three of its new iPhones next year, according to projections from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Chinese tech giant Huawei, the world's second-largest smartphone maker, will have trouble expanding outside of China next year since it remains banned from working with US companies like Google, the report notes. The US government placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May citing cybersecurity and national security concerns, which prevents American companies from doing business with the Shenzhen-based electronics maker without obtaining a license. That also leaves Apple in a position to thrive next year.

"Regardless of its long-term prospects in terms of 5G smartphone market share, 2020 will be Apple's time to grab bragging rights in 5G," Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, associate director at Strategy Analytics, wrote in a release announcing the study results.

Wall Street has high hopes for Apple's 2020 iPhones, which are expected to offer an upgraded three-dimensional camera system in addition to 5G support. Analysts from firms such as Morgan Stanley, Raymond James, and Canaccord Genuity previously said in August, before the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro were even announced, that the company's 2020 iPhones will be what Apple needs to rejuvenate its smartphone sales.


That being said, the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro appear to be selling well, although Apple no longer releases information on the number of iPhone units sold. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on the company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call that the iPhone 11 has become the company's best-selling iPhone.

Wedbush Securities also recently said in a note written by analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe that overall iPhone 11 demand is trending much better than expected heading into the holiday season. The firm predicts that 350 million of the 900 million iPhones in Apple's installed base are poised for an upgrade in 2020, and that Apple could sell 200 million iPhone units next year.

That's as important as ever for Apple as iPhone revenue continues to decline. Apple's burgeoning services and wearables businesses have played a big role in offsetting dropping iPhone sales, helping the company reach record September quarter revenue in 2019. But the iPhone still remains Apple's most profitable product.

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