February 23, 2024

Global smartphone sales to rise by 11% in 2021, with 5G devices accounting for 35% of total sales

Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users will total 1.5 billion units in 2021, a 11.4% growth year over year, according to research by Gartner.

“In 2020,consumers reduced spending on smartphones but availability of new products, will see users drive significant uptick in demand in 2021,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “The combination of delayed smartphone replacements and the availability of lower end 5G smartphones are poised to increase smartphone sales in 2021.” Gartner analysts expect smartphone sales in 2021 to be close to 2019 levels.

(TOP: LG WING, one of the flagship 5G devices released in late 2020).

After recording a 10.5% decline in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, smartphone sales are forecast to rebound in 2021. Mature Asia Pacific, Western Europe, and Latin America are expected to exhibit the strongest growth between 2020 and 2021.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales by Region, 2019-2021 (Thousands of Units)

Region 2019 2020 2021
Eastern Europe 47,358 42,960 49,364
Emerging Asia/Pacific 369,359 336,897 365,891
Eurasia 48,341 43,473 47,261
Greater China 407,449 368,016 409,968
Latin America 131,954 116,301 134,349
Mature Asia/Pacific 31,085 26,311 30,457
Middle East and North Africa 75,208 71,477 79,112
North America 159,974 136,257 151,750
Sub-Saharan Africa 91,537 84,440 94,293
Western Europe 146,747 125,430 142,796
Japan 31,643 27,159 30,118
Grand Total 1,540,655 1,378,719 1,535,358

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

5G is the Next Frontier of growth for smartphones

The growing availability of 5G networks coupled with a higher variety of 5G smartphones starting at $200 will steer demand in mature markets and China. Demand in emerging countries will be driven by buyers looking for a smartphone with better specifications and a 5G connectivity as an optional feature. Gartner forecasts sales of 5G smartphones will total 539 million units worldwide in 2021, which will represent 35% of total smartphone sales during the year.

5G Smartphone Sales Forecast, 2019-2021, Worldwide (Thousands of Units)

2019 2020 2021
5G Smartphones 16,705 213,260 538,530

Source: Gartner (February 2021)

“5G is now a standard feature in premium smartphones, especially in the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea,” said Mr. Gupta. “Driven by lower-cost models, adoption is particularly aggressive in China, where 5G smartphone share is on pace to reach 59.5% in 2021. In addition, lower end 5G smartphones, which are becoming more prevalent outside China, are poised to drive more momentum for 5G smartphones in 2021 across all regions.”


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