A top analyst says Samsung's new iPhone rival is selling better than expected, even in China

Key Points
  • TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Galaxy S10 pre-orders are better than expected, so he's upping his shipment estimates by as much as 30 percent.
  • Kuo said there are enough distinguishing features from iPhones to attract buyers, and said there's traction in China.
  • China has been a tough market for Samsung, where it isn't currently a top five vendor and sits behind Huawei, Xiaomi and Apple.
The new Samsung Galaxy S10

TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — perhaps best known for his Apple supply chain insights — said in a recent note to investors that he's upping his 2019 shipment estimates for Samsung's new Galaxy S10 phone by as much as 30 percent from 30 million to 35 million units to 40 million to 45 million units. Kuo said pre-order demand for the new Samsung phones, which includes the Galaxy S10e, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, is "better than expected."

Samsung and Apple saw decreased shipments in 2018, which were largely blamed on expensive phones and changing wireless carrier subsidy models. People are also using their old phones for longer than ever before. Kuo explained why the S10 may work in Samsung's favor.

"We believe that the better-than-expected shipment momentum of S10 series is due to (1) the market's bearish view on high-end smartphone growth, (2) spec differentiation from iPhone models, including an ultrasonic fingerprint on display (FOD), rear triple-camera, and bilateral wireless charging, (3) much better-than-expected demand in China market, and (4) trade-in programs."

Kuo didn't expand on Samsung's prospects in China, but Samsung isn't currently even a top five player in the market, where Apple has lost ground to local players including Xiaomi and Huawei, which both sell more affordable phones. But the notion that Samsung's latest device could be gaining traction there is significant. Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC in January that most of the downturn in iPhone sales took place in China due to economic headwinds in the country.

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