Global smartphone sales reached 1.41 billion in 2016, according to the latest study conducted by a market research firm GfK. This performance marked a 6.6-percent increase in comparison to 2015 when smartphone vendors recorded approximately 1.32 billion sales. The value of sales increased in a similar manner, as all 2016 smartphone sales were valued at $428.9 billion, up by 7.7 percent in comparison to the year before, the study found. All regions except for Western Europe recorded growth during the last quarter of the year in comparison to Q4 2015 as smartphone vendors made over 391 million sales from October to December of last year, thus achieving a 6.1-percent year-on-year increase. As expected, China was the largest market for smartphones as almost 120 million devices were sold in the Far Eastern country in Q4 2016 alone.
After a short decline, the North American smartphone market started growing again during the last quarter of 2016, primarily thanks to numerous deals and promotions offered by wireless carriers, GfK says. Another important factor which contributed to strong Q4 2016 sales in North America is the launch of several flagship devices which isn't surprising seeing how this region is the largest flagship market in the world. Still, the North American market as a whole stagnated given how it accounted for 191.3 million sales in 2016, only 300,000 more than in 2015. The Western Europe experienced a decline despite mimicking many of North America's promotions, primarily due to the fact that this market is already extremely saturated, the study found. GfK believes that the Western European smartphone market will stagnate in 2017, while the global market will still continue growing, albeit not by much. More specifically, the research firm projected that the global smartphone demand will reach approximately 1.48 billion devices this year.
The Chinese market is also expected to continue growing, primarily due to the fact that the expansion of 4G networks in the Far Eastern country is also increasing the demand for smartphones, GfK claims. Approximately 57 percent of Chinese smartphone owners were using 4G networks in 2016 and as that percentage is bound to increase, the demand for smartphones is expected to follow suit, the firm predicted. A more detailed breakdown of GfK's findings can be seen below.