It is likely that there will have been less new mobile phones sold globally in total in 2016 than in 2015, although overall sales numbers are predicted to begin to increase again next year. Excluding the more basic utility phones category, smartphone shipments are still increasing currently but sales of premium smartphones are predicted to have declined slightly in 2016 according to figures from Gartner. Gartner also predicts that overall worldwide phone sales will start to increase again in 2017.
The smartphone market has matured significantly in the last few years, with fewer significant innovations to encourage buyers to replace their handsets every year. Replacement cycles have steadily grown, and the handsets themselves have become more stable over an extended period of time. Even design changes have become more subtle, with fewer significant variations in both hardware and software, even between different manufacturers. Modular designs such as the LG G5 and Lenovo Moto Z have yet to make a significant difference in the marketplace. Among individual manufacturers, HTC have been known to be struggling over the past few years but have recently reported a 41 percent increase in sales for September 2016 compared to the previous month, possibly due to the manufacture and supply of the new Pixel and Pixel XL phones to Google. Samsung has said that it still expects to see a 5 percent increase in profits of the third quarter over the previous year despite it’s recent issues with the huge Galaxy Note 7 recall.
Smartphone growth at the moment is in part due to the new offerings from Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi, offering premium devices at a significantly lower price point than previously seen. The number of first-time smartphone buyers has been gradually declining in the major markets in the US, Europe and China. Emerging markets such as India and Indonesia are still seeing significant growth though, with India in particular seen as a key market for future growth in smartphone sales. It is hoped that 2017 will also see further innovations as manufacturers seek to make the next significant step in smartphone development that could fuel growth and encourage more existing users to upgrade their handsets.