Smartphones are more showing more resiliency than top analysts had earlier predicted for 2021. That’s because of the success of 5G smartphones where networks are deployed, but also due to sales of lower-end 4G smartphones in emerging markets.
Analyst firm IDC just raised its forecast for global smartphones in all of 2021 to 1.37 billion, an increase of 7.7% over 2020, which was a bad year due to the pandemic, with total shipments reaching 1.292 billion, down nearly 6% over 2019. Earlier this year, IDC had forecast a growth rate for 2021 of just 5.5%, with shipments of 1.35 billion.
"The quick market recovery surpassed even our expectations," said Nabila Popal, IDC research director for worldwide device trackers in an email to Fierce Electronics. "There is a strong pent up demand in virtually all markets given the three quarters of unexpected slowdown in 2020 and also from many years of decline thanks to a prolong refresh cycle...Overall consumer sentiment in many markets is increasing as signs of pandemic easing grow."
2021 will be the largest largest year-over-year growth in the smartphone market since 2015 and also the first year of growth after four years of decline, Popal said. Back-to-back quarters of growth convinced the firm to make the increase. Predicted 2021 shipment volumes of 1.37 billion would be almost tied with 2019 shipment volumes of 1.372 billion, based on IDC records.
In 2022, IDC said growth will increase another 3.8% to 1.43 billion smartphones. Through 2025 there will be a five-year compound annual growth rate of 3.7%. Even the chip shortage has had far less impact on the smartphone market than on automotive, PC and other consumer tech, IDC said.
The smartphone market saw a return to growth in the fourth quarter of 2021, with production ramping up since then, IDC said. It helps that Android smartphone suppliers are dropping 5G smartphone prices, which will be down 12% in 2021 to $456 and then below $400 in 2022.
“Apple will continue to feel price pressure,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president for IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.