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Global smartphone market to reach six-year high in 2021

Global smartphone market to reach six-year high in 2021

On track to surpass pre-COVID declines.

Credit: Photo 128496177 © Mirko Vitali | Dreamstime.com

The global smartphone market is expected to ship 1.38 billion units in 2021, growing by 7.7 per cent year-on-year and representing the largest yearly growth in shipments since 2015.

This is according to research firm IDC, which claimed the global market is continuing to shift towards 5G networks. In fact, the firm claimed 5G shipments are predicted to grow by nearly 130 per cent in 2021, with nearly all regions outside of China to see triple-digit growth by the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, China is predicted to lead global 5G market share with nearly half of all shipments, followed by the US with 16 per cent.  

As a point of comparison, smartphone shipment volumes in 2020 were at 1.29 billion and 2019 registered 1.37 billion shipments. If 2021's forecast comes to fruition, this would be in line with the research firm’s earlier in prediction January that the smartphone market would rebound this year to levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said the shift to 5G is occurring at all price tiers and will also deliver a five-year peak average in selling prices this year, to US$376, up 9.7 per cent year-on-year, from now until 2025.  

This is due to 5G devices continuing to replace LTE devices, which are beginning to drop in price, with a forecast decline of 27 per cent in 2021. 

However, average selling prices for 5G Android devices are predicted to drop 12 per cent year-over-year in 2021, down to US$456, followed by further declines in 2022 to under US$400. As a result, Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said Apple will continue to feel price pressure. 

"Smartphones are seeing competition for consumer spending from adjacent markets like PCs, tablets, TVs, and smart home devices, yet that hasn't slowed the market's path to recovery," Reith added. 

While the global growth rate for 2021 of 7.7 per cent is high, Scarsella noted that this is coming from a low base from “one of the most challenging years on record”. 

Looking ahead, single digit growth is predicted to continue until at least 2025, with a five-year annual compound growth rate of 3.7 per cent.

In addition, although the ongoing global semiconductor shortage is affecting many reliant industries, the impact on the smartphone market has not been to the extent of the impact seen in the PC and automotive sectors, as well as other consumer tech categories, the firm claimed.  


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