Samsung remains by far the largest smartphone vendor in the world with a little over 20% market share. While Samsung and Apple have been struggling to sell more phones, the meteoric rise of Chinese vendor Huawei in the smartphone world has taken many by surprise. Huawei dethroned Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor last year, and has now set its eyes on Samsung. The Korean company’s 2019 lineup of smartphones looks impressive, but will that be good enough to fend off the Chinese juggernaut?
Samsung has a lot riding on its 2019 lineup
Huawei managed to sell more than 200 million smartphones in 2018 despite the negligible presence in the US and many other Western markets. It is increasingly closing the gap with Samsung, even though Samsung is insanely popular in the US – the world’s second-largest smartphone market – where Huawei has been reduced to a mere punching bag.
The Chinese company is innovating faster than ever before. It’s evident from the fact that DxOMark ranks Huawei P20 Pro’s camera far above the iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 2, Galaxy Note 9, and all other smartphones. Its Mate series, Honor series, and Nova series of devices have gained immense popularity in emerging markets. Huawei sold merely 3 million phones in 2010, and has grown to more than 200 million devices in 2018.
According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s smartphone shipments during the July-September quarter declined by 13%. But Huawei witnessed a 32% sales growth in the same period. Of course, Samsung still managed to sell 72 million smartphones compared to Huawei’s 51 million in the July-September period, but the scenario may look different if Huawei continues to grow rapidly while others suffer the slump.
It will be interesting to see whether Samsung’s 2019 lineup could help revive its sales. Last year, it launched the Galaxy A9 with four rear cameras to strengthen its presence in the mid-range segment. The Korean company has sent out invites for a February 20 Galaxy Unpacked event where it is expected to unveil three different variants of Galaxy S10. The company has accidentally leaked the Galaxy S10 design in a blog post about its new OneUI interface.
The leaks so far suggest there will be three different variant of Galaxy S10 – one of them will be a budget model for price-conscious customers and the other two will be direct successors to the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. The S10 is said to sport ultra-slim bezels, an Infinity-O display, fast charging, the latest Snapdragon 855 processor, an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, Artistic Live Focus and Bright Night camera modes. Samsung has to reveal something surprisingly new to attract consumers who now have more options to choose from than ever before.
Another exciting phone in Samsung’s 2019 lineup will be the foldable device dubbed Galaxy F or Galaxy X. It is said to have a futuristic design and interface that could change the way we use our phones, opening up new possibilities for multitasking. You could unfold it to use it as a tablet for playing games, watching videos, and running multiple apps side by side. The foldable handset, expected to debut in the first half of 2019, would be more expensive than Galaxy S10 due to high manufacturing costs.
Samsung will also be launching its first 5G phones in the coming months. It will launch four 5G devices in the US this year – one each with Sprint and Verizon and two with AT&T. The transition from 4G to 5G is expected to be faster than from 3G to 4G. Samsung hopes to gain from the transition by being one of the first vendors to launch 5G devices in the US. The first 5G phones are said to be more expensive than their 4G counterparts. According to the rumor mill, Samsung is planning a 5G variant of the Galaxy S10.
In the second half of the year would come the Galaxy Note 10, which is rumored to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack and feature 5G support. The Note 10 would have an even bigger display than the Galaxy S10 Plus. The Note line has traditionally borrowed design elements from the Galaxy S series but comes with the S Pen stylus and some other unique features.
Huawei facing hurdles, but will keep fighting
Huawei is not going to sit idle through the year. It showed off the Honor View 20 at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month with a stunning 48MP rear camera, which uses a time-of-flight sensor to capture a 3D depth map. Huawei has also confirmed that it is working on foldable smartphones to take on Samsung’s Galaxy X. Its foldable phone would be 5G compatible to take advantage of the blazing fast speeds. According to the rumor mill, it is also working on the P30, the successor to last year’s well-received P20 model.
The Chinese company may not have a presence in the US, but it is focusing on other markets such as India to keep growing. Its explosive growth coupled with Samsung’s falling smartphone sales makes 2019 an interesting year for the smartphone industry. Huawei’s innovations also give it an upper hand. With the P20 and P20 Pro, it demonstrated that its AI cameras are far superior to that of Apple and Samsung’s. Its own version of Apple’s Animoji is much better than Samsung’s AR Emoji.
Samsung has a lot riding on its 2019 lineup of devices. The US-China trade war, the arrest of Huawei CFO in Canada, the ban of Huawei products in the US due to spying concerns, and other issues have made the journey a little more difficult for the Chinese company. But it has vowed to keep fighting until it has replaced Samsung as the world’s No.1 smartphone vendor.