Smartphone sales will decline by 3.2% by the end of year 2019, their worst decline ever, according to analyst firm Gartner. However, this could be changed: The slow adaptation of 5G networks and 5G smartphones will help the smartphone market return to growth in 2020 by 2.9%, Gartner said Thursday. Even so, total smartphone sales won't surpass 2018 levels until 2021. 5G phones will account for more than half of all phones sales in 2023, Gartner predicted. More than a dozen service providers have launched commercial 5G services in a handful of markets, noted Ranjit Atwal, senior research director for Gartner.
Gartner said 56% of phones sold in 2023 will run on 5G chips, which will be 10% more from what we will have in 2020. Less than half of global service providers will have launched a commercial 5G network in the next five years, Atwal said. A number of analysts have said the smartphone decline is due to the great hardware of the latest devices. "Consumers hold onto their phones for more than 3 years now, given the limited space for the new technology," said Atwal. There are about 5 billion mobile phones in use around the world, including smartphones and other mobile phones, some of them several years old.
Premium smartphones in recent years, like Apple's iPhone and many models of Android phones from Samsung and others, have a longer hardware life time than it was in the past. They are doing well even beyond a traditional two-year time frame, because of their quality and tech features. "Unless the devices provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users do not necessarily want to upgrade their phones," Atwal added. All types of devices, including smartphones and other mobile phones, PCs, and tablets will see a decline of 3.7% in 2019, with shipments dropping to 2.140 billion devices from 2.223 billion in 2018. By 2021, the number of devices will recover some to 2.157 billion devices.