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  • About 70% of smartphones shipped to the US in Q2 2020 were made in China, Canalys estimated.
  • Apple, Motorola, and low-cost brands such as Unimax and Wiko thrived.
  • Samsung was relatively stable as compared to previous quarters.

The United States and China are on less-than-friendly terms at the moment, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the smartphone market. Canalys estimated that China-made devices represented 70% of smartphones shipped to the US in the second quarter of 2020, a sharp jump from 60% the quarter before.

Apple was one of the clear winners, with shipments jumping 10% versus a year earlier. Other brands also fared well, though. Motorola (that is, Lenovo) saw its own shipments climb 8% in the Spring. Additionally, relatively tiny low-cost brands such as Unimax and Wiko also thrived.

COVID-19 likely reason for surge of smartphones made in China

It won’t shock you to hear that the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a role in the shift. Many consumers needed to be more cost-conscious due to unemployment and personal budget cuts. The $399 iPhone SE was one of Apple’s stronger sellers, for example. As another example, those previously mentioned low-end Android devices sometimes went to people signing up for Lifeline. That’s an assistance program that offers subsidized phone service for low-income families.

The average price of a phone sold in the US dropped to $503, or 10% less than a year earlier.

Related: The best budget phones you can currently buy

There was some stability for companies that generally make phones outside of China. Samsung’s numbers were virtually flat year-over-year as sales of budget phones like the Galaxy A10e and A20 made up for shortfalls with flagships like the S20. LG’s numbers dipped 19% over the same period, but it was considered relatively stable. And Chinese connections weren’t a guarantee of success — TCL saw its shipments plunge 43% despite launching phones like the 10 series.

The situation could change wildly. Canalys noted that volatile US-China tensions were creating a “perpetual state of uncertainty” for virtually every phone maker beyond Samsung and LG. Even if the pandemic came to an end soon, phone makers might not breathe a sigh of relief until the political climate settles down.

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