The technology research firm Canalys said Huawei (66.8 million units, up 29%), Apple (43.5 million units, down 7%), Xiaomi (32.5 million units, 3%) and OPPO (32.0 million units, up 6%) made up the top five.
Apple's bad showing was caused by weak performances of its XR, XS and XS Max in the lead-up to its September launch event; the number was higher as this was the first time Apple launched three iPhones in September.
Canalys claimed that Samsung's Galaxy A series had now displaced the old Galaxy J family, packing much better price-to-spec.
"The Note10 boasts two screen sizes for the first time, as well as separate 5G variants, which adds cost and complexity to Samsung, and has impacted profitability at the high-end. However, it has culminated in greater volume, with the Galaxy Note10 family out-shipping last year’s Note9 by more than 5%."
Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi said 5G was the next battleground for the South Korean conglomerate.
“It is one of very few smartphone vendors to design its own chipsets and modems. It is not, therefore, restricted to the innovation cycle of a third-party component supplier like Qualcomm," he pointed out.
"If Samsung moves faster than Qualcomm, it can win the race to mid-range smartphones with 5G. Its recent announcement of the Galaxy A90 5G and the upcoming Exynos 980 chipset highlights its strategic priorities.”
Despite the US efforts to stymie its sales by placing the vendor on its Entity List, Huawei showed resilience in growing by what Canalys called "a stunning uplift". Growth was seen not only in China, but also in overseas markets where volume increased sequentially from 21.5 million in Q2 to 25.3 million in Q3, as procurement, which had been paused in Q2, resumed.
“Huawei is not out of the woods yet,” said Canalys senior analyst, Ben Stanton. “Its shipments overseas in Q3 were focused on pre-Entity List models, with P30 Lite its best shipper, at close to three million units.
"But its post-Entity List models, like Mate 30, bring uncertainty because there is resistance from channels in critical overseas markets, like Europe, to support Huawei devices without Google Mobile Services. Huawei does have the potential to rapidly bring GMS to its devices if the political situation changes, but time is not on its side.
"It is nearing the launch timeframe for new Y-series and P-series devices in early 2020. These families are major volume drivers for Huawei, and accounted for 64% of its volume in the first half of this year. It will be a major challenge to retain its overseas volume if the Entity List saga is not resolved in the coming months.”