Mobile Devices

Smartphone shipments down as consumers wait for 5G

02 May 2019

The smartphone market is in a challenging state after a sixth consecutive quarterly decline in shipments including the first quarter of this year.

Smartphone shipments in the first quarter dropped 6.6% year-over-year, signaling that 2019 will likely be another down year worldwide, according to market research firm IDC.

The decline in smartphone shipments is due to a number of factors such as consumers holding onto phones longer than before — the lifecycle for smartphones is pushing 36 months and beyond — and higher priced models offer little incentive to upgrade.

“Moreover, the pending arrival of 5G handsets could have consumers waiting until both the networks and devices are ready for prime time in 2020,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager at IDC.

Huawei rising

The lone bright spot in the smartphone market comes from Huawei, which was able to increase its market share in the quarter growing 50% year-over-year in the first quarter and pulling into the No. 2 spot in the smartphone market.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Huawei is laser focused on growing its stature in the world of mobile devices, with smartphones being its lead horse," said Ryan Reith, program vice president of IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

IDC said Huawei is within striking distance of Samsung at the top of the global market for smartphones as Samsung saw volumes drop 8.1% in the quarter with 71.9 million shipments. Samsung recently launched its 5G smartphone in Korea and the phone is coming to the U.S. shortly as it focuses on the next-generation of cellular wireless technology. However, given Huawei’s rise, Samsung can’t lose focus on its mid-tier product strategy, IDC said.

Learn more information about the smartphone market with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

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