Mobile Devices

Chinese 5G deployments to carry smartphone shipments out of a 3 year spiral

02 December 2019

Smartphone forecast including 5G growth for the next few years. Source: IDCSmartphone forecast including 5G growth for the next few years. Source: IDCThe smartphone market has been plagued by negative growth for the past three years as consumers hold onto their phones longer and less incentive exists for buying new phones due to a lack of features.

But in 2020, the first deployment of 5G smartphones are expected to hit en masse in China, which will help the smartphone market to grow 1.5% year-over-year in 2020 with shipment volumes just over 1.4 billion, according to new research from International Data Corp (IDC).

IDC said it expects 190 million 5G smartphones to ship in 2020, which will account for about 14% of total smartphones shipped that year. By comparison, during its first year of deployment, 4G was just 1.3% of total smartphone shipments.

"Recent developments in the China market along with anticipation of aggressive activity from the smartphone supply chain and OEMs have caused us to raise our short-term 5G forecast," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "There is little doubt that China will quickly become the lead market in terms of 5G volume, but other important markets like the U.S., Korea, United Kingdom, and Canada are all expected to help drive 2020 volume.”

Reith said helping growth in the overall market will be the lowering of 5G smartphone prices, which is likely to also happen in 2020. As a result of three straight years of declining smartphone volumes, there is little room for 5G smartphones to raise overall average selling prices (ASPs). Because there are so many more Android smartphones and vendors on the market, it will drive down the cost of 5G smartphones beginning with CES 2020 in January and later at Mobile World Congress in the spring of 2020.

The smartphone market will also get bolstered by an Apple 5G iPhone, which is expected to be released in the fall of 2020. IDC said because Apple will be the last of the major smartphone vendors to enter the 5G market it should have an edge over competitors in that it will have a better understanding of the technology.

However, IDC warns that 5G adoption will depend on a lot of factors such as the arrival of bigger and more widespread networks, operator support and the previously mentioned price reductions.

Learn more about IDC’s smartphone research with its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

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