World to make 1.37 billion smartphones in 2021 says IDC – about one for every six humans

Apple's growth outpaces Android's, and 5G shipments are surging despite hefty prices


1.37 billion smartphones will ship in 2021, says analyst firm IDC, and 570 million of them will be 5G-ready.

The company's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker predicts growth of 7.4 per cent to reach that colossal number, but also notes "2021 shipments have managed to display minimal growth compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic) volumes".

Shipments of Apple devices are predicted to jump 13.8 per cent, with Androids growing by 6.2 per cent. Premium phones continue to be in demand, with shipments of kit priced at $1000 or more growing 116 per cent year-over-year compared to Q2 in 2020.

"The world's largest markets – China, the United States, and Western Europe – will still be down from 2019, but growing markets such as India, Japan, the Middle East, and Africa are fueling the recovery," IDC writes.

Punters want 5G and are willing to pay for it.

"5G shipments continue to be a primary driver of 2021 growth as both vendors and channels focus on 5G devices that carry a significantly higher average selling price (ASP) than older 4G devices," the firm states.

The ASP of a 5G smartphone will therefore reach $634 in 2021 – up just a tick from 2020's $632. Even at that price, shipments of 5G phones will grow by 123.4 per cent to 570 million.

"China will continue to lead the market with 47.1 per cent of the 5G global market share, followed by the USA at 16 per cent, India at 6.1 per cent, and Japan at 4.1 per cent,” IDC suggests. “By the end of 2022, 5G units are expected to make up more than half of all smartphone shipments with a 54.1 per cent share.”

4G phones are headed for the bargain basement, with ASP expected to land at $206 – almost 30 per cent down from 2020's $277.

Earth's human population is on track to hit around 7.9 billion in 2021. This year's smartphone harvest therefore means there's a new handset for about one in six of us. And IDC predicts 3.4 per cent shipment growth in both 2022 and 2023. ®

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