The 5G effect: Smartphone shipments should keep growing in the next five years

·1-min read

Global smartphone shipments are forecast to reach 1.38 billion units in 2021, an increase of 7.7% on 2020. This would mark the strongest year-on-year growth the smartphone market has seen since 2015, according to market intelligence firm, IDC. Shipments are then expected to increase at a lower but steady rate until 2025, to top 1.5 billion unit shipments that year.

After a challenging year in 2020 -- evidently marked by the covid-19 pandemic and its various lockdowns that hampered the market -- growth is back and is forecast to continue. On the one hand, demand is strong for mid-range and low-end 4G handsets in emerging markets. On the other hand, in China, the US and Europe, markets are slowly starting to migrate towards 5G, with a growing handset offer, although currently only in the high-end sector.

Beyond 2021, IDC expects slower but steady growth each year until 2025. However, the reported global shortage of semiconductors remains a major unknown for the industry. Shipments of 5G smartphones are expected to grow by nearly 130% in 2021. And when it comes to market share, China alone is forecast to account for nearly one in two 5G smartphone shipments this year. Note that IDC also expects the average price of 5G Android devices to drop 12% year-on-year in 2021.

David Bénard