LG's Loss Is Reportedly OnePlus' Gain In Quickly Shifting U.S. Smartphone Market Share

OnePlus 9 Pro
As would be expected after abandoning the smartphone business earlier this year, LG's share of the handset market in the United States has taken a major hit—the latest data shows LG's smartphone share plummeted 35 percent in the first half of 2021, compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, OnePlus is doing gangbusters with its smartphone business.

Interestingly enough, LG exited the smartphone business right as the push for 5G technologies began to drive more shipments overall. This is evidenced in the latest data corralled by Counterpoint Research—it shows that the US smartphone market saw a 27 percent year-over-year increase during the first half of this year, and attributed the gain to carriers continuing to push 5G upgrades. Discounted 5G phones also had an impact.

Despite this, the market research firm called this a "challenging year" for handset makers, in part because of the ongoing silicon shortage.

"So far, 2021 has been a challenging year for OEMs. There was a consolidation of the market with LG and VinSmart’s exit, increased demand from carriers for more affordable 5G smartphones, and manufacturing constraints due to the global component shortage. This created a big opportunity for OEMs looking to expand market share. So far, we have seen OEMs such as OnePlus, Motorola and Nokia HMD successfully capturing this momentum," said Jeff Fieldhack, US research director at Counterpoint.

Smartphone Growth Graph
Source: Counterpoint

ZTE also saw a massive drop in shipments in the US, to the tune of 77 percent. On the flip side, however, OnePlus emerged as the big winner, in part from "capturing the void left by LG's exist from the smartphone business" It became the fastest growing OEM in the first half of 2021, with a massive 428 percent year-over-year gain.

"With the introduction of the N100 and N10 5G in January, OnePlus quickly gained market share in Metro by T-Mobile. Besides, it continues to push its premium device presence at T-Mobile with the latest OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. OnePlus further expanded its presence in Q2 due to LG’s exit from the smartphone market while the N100 has been one of the top selling smartphones within Metro for months," said Maurice Klaehne, senior research analyst at Counterpoint.

We can confirm those are good phones. Our full analysis can be found in our OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro review, but summed up, these are feature-rich devices for the money. We were especially impressed with the OnePlus 9 Pro, with its beautiful display, solid camera performance, excellent audio, and overall build quality.

Motorola also capitalized on LG's exit, as seen in the graph—its smartphone shipments grew 83 percent in the first half of 2021. And of course Apple and Samsung did their thing, emerging as "top-sellers in the premium segment" with respective growth rates of 53 percent and 17 percent.

Interestingly, the market research firm says Samsung could have performed even better if it had the inventory to meet the demand. It's noted that the supply of Android phones has been tight, particularly for handsets priced below $600.

Here's hoping the component shortage eases a bit as we head into the final months of 2021, and into 2022. We'll see though, as Intel and others have warned that chip shortages could last two more years. Fingers crossed that won't be the case.