A surging Motorola and Google show huge improvements in Q1 North American phone shipments

Analytical firm Canalys reports that smartphone shipments in North America rose 3.7% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2022 as 39 million units were delivered during the first three months of this year. Apple shipped 19 million handsets in the continent, 3 million more than it shipped during the opening quarter of last year. In doing so, the company raised its market share from 45% in 2021 to 51% this year.

Apple widens its lead over Samsung in North America during the first quarter

Apple expanded its lead over Samsung as the latter was able to increase its first-quarter shipments by only 1% in North America. The South Korean-based manufacturer shipped 10.5 million phones in the continent giving it a 27% market share down from the 28% it had during the 2021 first quarter.

Canalys Analyst Brian Lynch said, “The North American smartphone market has been buoyed by Apple’s strong growth. This quarter, the iPhone 13’s high popularity was the key driver. With global demand more uncertain, Apple has shifted more devices back into North America after prioritizing other regions in Q4 2021, allowing it to greater fulfill demand and deliver on backorders from the previous quarter.”

Lynch pointed out that the release of the latest iPhone SE model gives iOS fans in North America a lower-priced option. The analyst says that 5G support could help the iPhone SE 3 continue to grow sales in upcoming quarters. He adds, “Despite not being mmWave-enabled, carriers’ increasing investments in C-band and sub-6GHz spectrums will open the door for the iPhone SE’s market growth in the coming quarters.”

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What he is saying is that while the iPhone SE 3 doesn’t support the fastest mmWave 5G spectrum, high-band service is nearly impossible to find and the model does connect to more accessible C-band and sub-6GHz spectrum.

Surging Motorola (under the name of its parent, Lenovo) finished in third place. Shipments in North America rose a sizzling 56% on an annual basis to 4 million phones from the 2.6 million it delivered to the North American market during last year’s first quarter. Motorola replaced LG after the company left the smartphone business over a year ago and has succeeded thanks to its popular line of Moto G phones (such as the Stylus 5G) and the Motorola Edge+ (2022) powered by the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset.
China’s TCL captured fourth place for the quarter despite a 21% decline in shipments year-over-year to 1.4 million units. TCL had 4% of the North American market from January through March of this year, down from the 5% slice of the pie that TCL had during the same quarter last year.

And thanks to the Pixel 6 series, Google was the fifth largest shipper of phones in North America during the first quarter. Canalys shows that Google delivered 1.2 million Pixels in North America during the first quarter, a 380% hike from the 200,000 Pixel models shipped in the continent during the first quarter last year. Google had a 3% market share in North America during Q1 2022 compared to the 1% share it recorded during the 2021 first quarter.

Canalys Research Analyst Runar Bjørhovde stated that “Google is on the offensive to take market share, building on its wide carrier presence and unprecedented investment in the Pixel brand, both on traditional advertising campaigns and a new NBA partnership. It focused on the Pixel 6 in Q1 but will look to expand further in the rest of the year, with a recently launched portfolio including the upcoming Pixel 7 flagship, affordable Pixel 6a, Pixel Watch and Pixel Buds.”

Other brands combined to ship 2.1 million smartphones in North America during the first quarter, a decline of 64% from the 5.8 million delivered during the same time last year.

Canalys’ Lynch summed up the quarter for smartphones in North America by noting, “High inflation places an enormous amount of pressure on carriers in North America as rate increases will be necessary. Heavy discounting and high trade-in values are being used to lure in and retain customers for the region’s biggest telcos, easing pressure on the high-end smartphone market.”

Lynch summed up the market by saying that “supply will remain a key bottleneck for the top vendors in the upcoming quarter, but North America will continue to be a priority and is likely to maintain healthy supply levels. The North American market is well placed to avoid any significant volatility in shipments despite the uncertain outlook of its economy.”

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