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Flagship Android phone sales have crashed and burned this year

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:05PM EST
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High-end Android phones are better than ever now… but that hasn’t translated into improved sales. Charles Arthur takes a look at some recent earnings figures from key Android smartphone vendors and finds that all of them have missed sales expectations when it comes to flagship phones.

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Looking at earnings reports for Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony, Arthur discovered that “none of the Android OEMs shipped more handsets than in the year-ago period” and “none made more operating profit than in the year-ago period. Quite a few lost money, including Sony and HTC – in the latter’s case, enough that its future as an independent company is in serious doubt.”

This has to be a particularly depressing reality for Samsung, which really did step up its game this year with the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 edge. But when the premium Android market is getting hammered not just by Apple’s larger iPhones but by zero-margin vendors such as Xiaomi, making money on high-end hardware sales is a tough proposition.

And at least Samsung is still profitable — other than Apple, no smartphone vendors flagged by Arthur have turned any significant profit. Take a look at this chart, which shows that LG is the closest thing to a profitable Android vendor other than Samsung… and its smartphone division has an operating margin of 0.0069%:

Arthur’s full post about the brutal realities facing high-end Android OEMs is worth reading and can be found here.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.