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Smartphone shipments on the rise, thanks to 5G

By Catherine Knowles, Wed 1 Sep 2021

Global smartphone shipments continue to grow despite recent setbacks, thanks to strong recovery in many emerging markets.

This is according to the latest IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, which finds that shipments of smartphones are expected to grow 7.4% in 2021, reaching 1.37 billion units, followed by 3.4% growth in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

IDC states that although COVID-19 drastically impacted 2020 shipments, 2021 shipments have managed to display minimal growth compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic) volumes, giving a more accurate view of the state of the market.

According to IDC, while the supply chain situation hasn't drastically improved, the smartphone market is experiencing positive growth.

The analysts find that the 7.4% growth can be attributed to a healthy 13.8% growth from iOS devices combined with 6.2% growth from Android.

The world's largest markets will still be down from 2019, but growing markets are fuelling the recovery, the analysts find.

5G shipments continue to be a primary driver of 2021 growth as both vendors and channels focus on 5G devices that carry a significantly higher average selling price (ASP) than older 4G devices.

The ASP of a 5G smartphone will reach $634 in 2021, which is flat from $632 in 2020.

However, 4G devices continue to witness a massive price decline as the ASP drops to $206, representing a nearly 30% decline from last year ($277), IDC states.

As a result, the total 5G shipment volume will grow to 570 million units, up 123.4% from last year.

When it comes to market share, China will continue to lead with 47.1% of the 5G global market share, followed by the USA at 16%, India at 6.1%, and Japan at 4.1%.

By the end of 2022, 5G units are expected to make up more than half of all smartphone shipments with a 54.1% share, according to the analysts.

IDC group vice president mobility and consumer device trackers, Ryan Reith, says, "The smartphone market was better prepared from a supply chain perspective heading into 2020 given almost all regions were expecting to grow and vendors were preparing accordingly.

"2020 was a bust due to the pandemic but all of the top brands continued forward with their production plans with the main difference that the timeline was pushed out.

"Therefore, we are at a point where inventory levels are much healthier than PCs and some other adjacent markets and we are seeing the resilience of consumer demand in recent quarterly results."

IDC research director mobile phones, Anthony Scarsella, says, "Despite the ongoing issues surrounding the pandemic and the Delta variant, consumers are continuing to upgrade to more premium smartphones this year.

"Premium smartphones (priced at $1000+) continued to grow in the second quarter as the segment displayed 116% growth from last year. Moreover, ASPs across the entire market climbed 9% as buyer preferences trend towards more costly 5G models than entry-level devices."

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