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Smartphone sales to drop 2.5% in 2019, experts say

Gartner's research VP said that 5G's widespread availability could help boost smartphone sales in the second half of 2020.

Mobile broadband, Mobile handsets, Research, Research and development, 5G, Gartner Incorporation

Smartphone sales across the world this year will see a 2.5% year-over-year (YoY) drop, according to experts from research and advisory company Gartner, Inc.—sales to end-users is predicted at a total of 1.5 billion smartphone units.

Gartner's research vice-president Annette Zimmermann, explaining the causes behind the slump, said in a press statement, "Lengthening smartphone replacement cycles and a ban on Huawei accessing technology from U.S.-based suppliers weakened demand for smartphones in the first half of 2019." She added, "We expect demand to get even weaker in the second half as replacement of high-, low- and mid-end smartphones continues to slow, due to low value benefits."

Gartner forecasts that sales of 5G smartphones will top 15 million units in 2019, which will represent less than 1% of total smartphone sales in that year. However, their analysts expect sales to grow again in 2020, driven by broader availability of 5G models and the promotion of 5G service packages in various parts of the world by communications service providers (CSPs). The possible launch of the first 5G Apple iPhone in 2020, which should entice iPhone users to upgrade, can also be a possible boost to the market.

"Although leading mobile manufacturers [the LG V50 ThinQ, OPPO Reno 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G] have started positioning their first 5G smartphones, and CSPs have started to offer some aggressively priced 5G service packages, 5G smartphone sales are set to remain small in 2019. Sales will start to ramp up in the second half of 2020 as the coverage and availability of 5G hardware services improve," Zimmermann said.