Editor's Corner—The U.S. smartphone market is going to get a lot more interesting this fall

Counterpoint shows Samsung in the lead in the U.S. smartphone market in the second quarter with 31.3% share. (Counterpoint)

It’s that time of year: The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder, and Apple, Samsung and others are gearing up to release a bunch of new phones. Except the annual “fall smartphone battle” in the U.S. ought to be a lot more interesting this time around because of several new factors:

  • An expected iPhone redesign with augmented reality functions.
  • A refreshed Motorola with new phones and new carrier partners.
  • A smartphone backed by the creator of Android.
  • New Pixel phones from Google.
  • And Samsung, recovering from the Note 7 disaster, with something to prove.

“The smartphone market has always been competitive, but this fall is definitely shaping up to be more interesting than many in the past,” Avi Greengart, research director for consumer platforms and devices for GlobalData, told FierceWireless.

“I agree there is lots of interesting stuff going on,” added CCS Insight research chief Ben Wood.

Handset analysts aren’t the only ones gearing up for a busy fall.

“We look forward to iconic device launches to continue to drive higher upgrade rates amongst our customer base,” noted Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure on the carrier’s recent second-quarter earnings conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the event. “Obviously, it's going to be dependent on what competitors' offers are at this time when there's new iconic devices being launched.”

In his own carrier’s quarterly conference call, AT&T CFO John Stephens acknowledged that the operator’s handset sales have been sluggish this year, but added that “I would expect a pickup in the second half of the year as new devices come out.”

“In terms of the impact of any new devices coming along, look, we assume that we'll see something later in the year,” agreed Verizon’s CFO, Matthew Ellis, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of Verizon’s call. “We typically have very strong results when we have new devices come out because when customers get a new device with new functions, they want it on the best network, but we'll see what happens there. And certainly would expect that to be accretive to the overall revenue story.”

So exactly what can the U.S. wireless industry expect this fall?