Global smartphone shipments projected to stand at 1.15 billion units in 2023, the lowest in a decade




The 2023 global smartphone shipments are set to decline by 6% to stand at 1.15 billion units, the lowest in a decade, according to preliminary figures from Counterpoint Research’s latest Global Smartphone.

Asia is one of the major hurdles to positive growth, as headwinds halt the economic turnaround anticipated for China at the start of the year, and the broader region experiences intensifying declines across emerging markets.

At same time, North America continues to be a major drag on global recovery, with a disappointing first half of 2023 setting it up for double-digit full year declines. Despite strength in the jobs market and inflation falling, consumers are hesitant to upgrade their devices, pushing replacement rates for the US and globally to record highs.

“There’s been a decoupling between what’s happening in the economy and consumers buying phones. So far this year it’s been record low upgrades across all carriers,” says Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director for North America.

“But we’re watching the fourth quarter of 2023 with interest because the iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers. And with that big iPhone 12 installed base up for grabs promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot.”

In China, “Apple is well positioned as the premium segment continues to gain more share,” states Ethan Qi, the Associate Director for China at Counterpoint Research.

Premium and ultra-premium growth is a trend that is happening globally and favors vendors like Apple which have portfolios heavily weighted in the higher segments.

2023 could mark the start of a new era for Apple as a resilient premium market and strong showing in the US could help it become number one globally in terms of annual shipments for the first time ever.  “It’s the closest Apple’s been to the top spot.  We’re talking about a spread that’s literally a few days’ worth of sales,” muses Fieldhack. “Assuming Apple doesn’t run into production problems like it did last year, it’s really a toss up at this point.”

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