After an unprecedented slowdown in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic uncertainty around it, the global smartphone market is expected to return back to normal this year. According to a recent data forecast by market research and advisory firm Gartner, worldwide sales of smartphones will grow by about 11.4-percent year-on-year (YoY) in 2021 to exceed 1.53 billion units.
The report suggests that smartphone sales in 2020 declined 10.5-percent YoY. The shipment volume last year dropped to 1.38 billion units from 1.54 billion units in 2019. However, the market showed signs of recovery towards the end of the year. Gartner now estimates the shipment volume to once again reach the levels of 2019 this year.
The economic uncertainty around the still-ongoing global health crisis means consumers reduced spending on smartphones last year. This very reason also resulted in strong growth in the used smartphone market. More than 225 million used smartphones were sold globally in 2020, an IDC report showed last month.
However, since most businesses have now reopened are functioning as before, we should see a significant uptick in new smartphone sales this year. Many people skipped smartphone replacements last year. They are likely to get a new phone this year.
Gartner expects the markets across the Asia Pacific (Mature), Latin America, and Europe to exhibit the strongest growth in smartphone sales this year. Asia Pacific (Emerging) and Eurasia, on the other hand, could be the slowest-growing smartphone markets in 2021. Growth rate in China, Africa, and North America, meanwhile, is likely to be on level with the global average.
Affordable 5G devices will make a difference in the global smartphone market in 2021
The entry prices of 5G-capable smartphones have consistently decreased over the past couple of years. The introduction of entry-level 5G chipsets means we should see the prices drop even further this year. We may well see a 5G selling at under $200 come the end of 2021.
The arrival of affordable 5G phones, as well as increasing demand in both mature and emerging markets, mean sales of 5G smartphones may reach 539 million units worldwide in 2021. That’s more than double from 213 million 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. The numbers also represent 35 percent of total smartphone sales this year. Only 15 percent of smartphones sold last year were 5G ready.
“5G is now a standard feature in premium smartphones, especially in the US, China, Japan, and South Korea,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. However, lower end 5G smartphones “are poised to drive more momentum for 5G smartphones in 2021 across all regions,” Mr. Gupta added.