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Pandemic sees global smartphone shipments fall dramatically in Q1

A new report from analyst firm Counterpoint Research states that the smartphone market has declined by 13% year on year, the fastest rate ever. Global smartphone shipments for Q1 2020 fell below to 295m, the first time quarterly shipments have fallen below 300m since Q1 2014.

While smartphone shipments declined gradually in 2019, the report said that “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the signs of any recovery that the market started showing in Q4 2019.”

It goes on to say that “The first quarter decline was mainly driven by a 27% YoY shipment decline in China”, where the global market share fell from 26% to 22%.

Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research said, “From the consumer standpoint, unless replacing a broken phone, smartphones are mostly a discretionary purchase. Consumers, under these uncertain times, are likely to withhold making many significant discretionary purchases. This means the replacement cycles are likely to become longer. Lockdowns in most parts of the world will be lifted in a staggered way, which will mean it could take time before the retail activity completely resumes. Even after the lockdown ends, there will likely be changes consumer spending patterns.”

Samsung remained the biggest selling smartphone manufacturer with 59m units sold in Q1 2020, but that was down significantly from 72m from Q1 2019. Despite still having a 20% global share of sales overall, Counterpoint expects “a steeper decline in Q2 2020”.

Huawei, Apple, Xiaomi and Oppo make up the rest of the top five vendors, with only Xiaomi seeing a year on year rise in sales, as shown in the below graphic.

Image: Counterpoint Research

Xiaomi’s sub-brand Realme also saw growth, showing the rise in the brands’ popularity in emerging markets such as India. Counterpoint’s research suggested the figures could be explained by India’s lockdown only coming in the last week of March, meaning sales remained stronger there compared to other regions.

The news comes the day after Apple posted its financial results, which include iPhone sales, where it notably still brought in more revenue than the same fiscal quarter last year despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

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