Australian smartphone sales dropped only slightly in the first half of 2020 despite the economic impact of COVID-19.
Smartphone sales declined by 5 per cent year-on-year to 3.8 million units sold during the first six months of the year to June 30 in Australia.
However, even with the decline, which is linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the drop is only considered to be marginal, according to research firm Telsyte's Australian Smartphone & Wearable Devices Market Study 2020-2024.
The reliance on smartphones during the pandemic is growing in importance, with Telsyte claiming 45 per cent of smartphone users are spending more time on their phones since the start of the pandemic. Furthermore, smartphones were the primary device for nearly half of users, at 49 per cent.
This reliance could mean the smartphone market’s downturn could be cushioned, according to Foad Fadaghi, managing director of Telsyte.
“Consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, not just for communications but for essential services, work and entertainment. This increased usage and dependency should see the smartphone market weather the downturn better as consumers replace aging devices,” he said.
Both Apple and Android phones recorded sale declines in the half-year, dropping 2 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.
Affordability was key for both of the device types, with Android smartphone prices declining by over 10 per cent in the period and iPhones falling by a more muted 2 per cent.
Instead, Apple’s reliance on affordability was noted with its lower price point iPhone SE model, which made up an estimated 13 per cent, or 230,000 units, of all iPhone sales during the period. According to Telsyte, this made it the second-most popular iPhone, behind the iPhone 11 and in front of the iPhone 11 Pro.
This caused it to gain slightly in market share, increasing 1.1 per cent to 44.3 per cent.
However, Android devices held the majority market share of 55.7 per cent, with Samsung’s premium Galaxy S20 and A series smartphones helping it hold onto its position as the top Android manufacturer.
The top three vendors — Apple, Samsung and OPPO — made up a combined 87 per cent sales share in the market, an increase of 6 per cent from the first half of 2019.
Huawei sales, meanwhile, were estimated to have declined by 75 per cent over the same period, to under 50,000 units, due to lacking the Google Play Store and the manufacturer facing difficulty in the Australian market.
Looking ahead, Telsyte expects the second half of 2020 to see sales decline by 7 per cent compared to the second half of 2019, to 4.1 million units sold.
It also predicts an increase in the average smartphone replacement cycle increasing to over three years, up 0.2 years from 2018. Furthermore, a Telsyte study found 46 per cent of smartphone users plan to use their phone for at least four years.
However, if Apple were to release a 5G iPhone in the second half of the year, it could quicken the cycle, with about 40 per cent of iPhone users saying their next smartphone has to be 5G-enabled.
Telsyte research estimated that less than 15 per cent of smartphones sold in the first half of the year supported 5G, but could double in the second half with a 5G-enabled iPhone, instigating a similar trend that was seen when Apple released the iPhone 5, its first 4G smartphone in 2012.