June 16, 2021

How Global Recovery is Invigorating the Smartphone Market

As the world is gradually recovering from the health crisis of 2020, there has been a marked increase in smartphone sales. Find out who’s leading the pack and how the shift to 5G could affect the global smartphone industry. 

Many have dubbed the smartphone as the Swiss Army knife of tech gadgets, and rightfully so. In 2020, the smartphone became even more of a lifeline for people around the world. We used it to make video calls, buy essential goods, stay on top of work and school, binge-watch Korean dramas, exercise, and even learn a new hobby or two.

This 2021, growth in the smartphone market shows no signs of stopping. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Worldwide smartphone sales jump more than 24% 

Global smartphone shipments reached 347 million units, up 27% year on year, according to tech market research firm Canalys.

According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments are projected to hit 1.38 billion units in 2021, an increase of 7.7% over 2020. The market intelligence firm expects this trend to continue into 2022, with shipments totaling 1.43 billion reflecting a 3.8% year-on-year growth. 

There are 5.27 billion unique mobile phone users in the world today, with an average of more than one million new smartphones being used every day. As markets worldwide continue to migrate toward 5G, Gartner predicts that sales of 5G smartphones will total 539 million units worldwide this year, representing 35% of total smartphone sales. 

(Also read: How 5G will Power Our Post-Pandemic World)

The sweet smell of spring for smartphones in China

“5G is now a standard feature in premium smartphones, especially in the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea,” Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner, said in a press release. “Driven by lower-cost models, adoption is particularly aggressive in China, where 5G smartphone share is on pace to reach 59.5% in 2021.”

Smartphone shipments within China increased 67.7% year-on-year to 35.5 million units last March, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications (CAICT).

That same month, Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Realme, and Nubia held 5G smartphone launches in a bid to grab the consumer’s attention--and cash. 

"Such a revival signals that the spring battle for 5G smartphone market supremacy in China is game on, especially in the high-end segment,” independent telecom expert Fu Liang told China Daily.

The race to roll out 5G networks

Commercial 5G is now available in 1,336 cities across 61 countries, according to Viavi Solutions. Let’s take a look at who’s leading the pack.

In the race to roll out 5G networks, China reigns supreme. In 2020, it deployed about 600,000 new 5G base stations and added more than 200 million 5G connections. Last April, the government announced that China now has 260 million 5G mobile connections, making it the world’s largest 5G high-speed mobile network. 

Curious what a 5G connection is like in China? Check out this video by Jim Fields, Founder and Managing Director of Relay, a creative marketing agency.

From entertainment and education to manufacturing and healthcare, 5G will enable powerful innovations and support digital transformation across industries. With its ultrafast speeds, low latency, and massive connectivity, it has the potential to improve the lives of people around the world. 

As one of the Top 21 EMS companies in the world, IMI has over 40 years of experience in providing electronics manufacturing and technology solutions

We are ready to support your business on a global scale.

Our proven technical expertise, worldwide reach, and vast experience in high-growth and emerging markets make us the ideal global manufacturing solutions partner. 

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Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc., also known as IMI, is one of the leading global providers of electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and power semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS) in the world.