Global smartphone sales may not rebound for another year or so, as 5G ramp-up will take time

Global smartphone sales may not rebound for another year or so, as 5G ramp-up will take time
After growing steadily for years and years, global smartphone shipments began declining towards the end of 2017, continuing their free fall throughout 2018, as well as the first half of 2019. While the year-on-year drop reported in Q2 was not as bad as some of the industry's previous results, Gartner analysts don't expect the market to fully recover anytime soon due to sluggish 5G rollouts, lengthening replacement cycles, and Huawei's uncertain situation in the Western Hemisphere.

All these factors will lead to an overall 2.5 percent dip in worldwide smartphone sales this year, according to Gartner's latest forecast, less than 1 percent of which is likely to be made up of 5G-enabled devices. That's right, only 15 million or so units of a 1.5 billion+ total will support the next standard in cellular connectivity by the end of 2019, a number projected to start ramping up in the second half of 2020.


Coincidentally (or not), 2020's 1.56 billion global smartphone shipment tally is expected to surpass both 2019's estimated 1.51 billion and 2018's actual 1.55 billion unit counts, even though several key regions could still stay on a downward trajectory. We're talking primarily about North America and Latin America, while the Western Europe and Greater China areas are tipped to return to a healthy growth pace.

Before that can happen, however, smartphone sales in Western Europe are forecasted to drop by more than 5 percent this year compared to 2018, with North American numbers expected to register a 4.4 percent decline in 2019, followed by a significantly smaller 2020 downturn. That's mainly because the high-end segment is "particularly oversupplied and commoditized" in mature markets like the US or Japan, where "compelling new utility or experiences" are needed to convince users to upgrade their flagships faster. Enter 5G-powered "experiences", which are unfortunately available on a small scale in most global markets right now.

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4 Comments

2. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

I don’t think 5G will save this trend. Most users don’t change their phone every year. Old iphones are passed down to their relatives or kids.

4. oldskool50

Posts: 1323; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

This is the most correct and good thing you have ever said and I actually agree with you 100%. You do have some smarts, so you should stop trolling. Last I check though, none of the iPhone have 5G. Samsung already has 5G phones being sold right now. Not that we really need them even if 5G is available be where one might live.

5. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

As a phone enthusiast I have no desire to buy a 5G phone in the near future until it's virtually everywhere. International compatibility is also a big stumbling block for me with the US once again being the outlier on frequencies. 4G is fine for the foreseeable future.

3. oldskool50

Posts: 1323; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

4G will be supported for a while. No is gonna need to rush out an buy a 5G phone. Carriers supported 2G for years even after 3G was establish and they offered 3G for several years after 4G. There will never be a need to rush to get 5G phones because by 2021, most of the selling phones will likely be 5G. As long as the only options right now for a 5G phones are above $1000, sales are gonna stay slow. Moving to 5G is not gonna result in more sales of of a sudden.

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