5G will bring new growth to smartphones, IDC says

cellphone
Smartphones have declined for three years straight, but the trend will reverse itself in 2020 with emergency of 5G connections, IDC says (Getty Images)

Analyst firm IDC predicted Monday that global smartphone shipments will grow again in 2020 after three straight years of declines.

The growth in 2020 will be just 1.6% but potentially enough to please some suppliers of chips and components to smartphones. Chip sales declined by 14% in the first half of 2019 globally due to soft demand for cell phones and a 20% decline in data processing, IHS Markit said recently.

RELATED: Chip sales decline 13.9% in first half of 2019 

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In its latest forecast, IDC predicted that 5G smartphones will be nearly 9% of all smartphones shipped in 2020. That 9% will account for 123 million devices shipped.

In 2023, 5G phones will be more than one-fourth of worldwide smartphone shipments, IDC predicted.

“To be clear, we don’t think 5G will be the savior in smartphones, but we do see it as a critical evolution in mobile technology,” said Ryan Reith, vice president at IDC.

The growth in 5G will more subtle than what happened with 4G, he added.

IDC said it has lowered its assumption for average selling prices of smartphones in its latest forecast, mainly in China. IDC expects a wide range of mid-range priced smartphones designed for the sub-6GHz spectrum to enter the market in early 2020.

For all of 2019, IDC predicted 1.37 billion smartphones to ship to retailers, with Android dominating at nearly 1.2 billion of the total and iOS making up just 178 million of the total or about 13%. By 2023, the iOS share is expected to drop to 12.6% or about 187 million out of nearly 1.5 billion phones shipped.

In 2019, iOS will have lost nearly 15% of shipment volumes over 2018. Lack of 5G devices and “market maturity” will be the main factors, IDC said.

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