Global smartphone market to rebound in 2021 as if 'nothing ever happened'

Global smartphone market to rebound in 2021 as if 'nothing ever happened'

Following 2020's overall decline of 5.9 per cent, to 1.3 billion devices

Credit: Dreamstime

The global smartphone market's surge shows signs of a market moving past COVID-19 in 2021, even with the market's overall decline last year.

The market saw a year-over-year rise in device shipments of 4.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, to 385.9 million units. In addition, the last year saw an overall of 5.9 per cent, to 1.3 billion devices, but this isn't likely to penetrate 2021's recovery, according to research firm IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Tracker report. 

In fact, the program’s vice president Ryan Reith claimed that the market’s recovery prospects are so strong, it’s like the last year never occurred. 

“The majority of the world is either in some form of lockdown or still waiting to return to normal day-to-day life, yet smartphone sales are rebounding as though nothing ever happened,” he said.  

“This illustrates the importance of smartphones in everyone's life and provides a strong foundation for market demand. As the world progresses towards a post-pandemic environment, IDC believes demand will grow and the market recovery will accelerate.” 

Driving that recovery, according to the program’s research director Nabila Popal, are a multitude of factors, including vendors preparing themselves for being able to operate under a second lockdown. 

“Lockdowns also have people spending less on areas like leisure, travel, and dining out – and smartphones are benefitting from this,” she said. 

Additionally, pent-up demand, continued supply push on 5G, aggressive promotions, the popularity of low to mid-priced phones and the recovery of the smartphone supply chain are also set to play a factor in the recovery. 

Among the top vendors, Apple returned to the top spot for the quarter, with 90.1 million devices shipped — representing IDC’s largest volume of shipments in a quarter. Meanwhile, Xiaomi saw the largest quarterly shipment growth at 32 per cent, year-over-year, to 43.3 million shipments.

For the calendar year, Apple was on top as well with 206.1 million shipments, followed by Samsung with 266.7 million and Xiaomi with 147.8 million. 

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