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Global Smartphone Sales Hit $522B, Despite Low Demand

Although smartphone demand came to a near halt in 2018, global smartphone sales managed to reach US$522 billion in 2018, GfK reports.

Market research firm GfK released their 2018 findings ahead of MWC 2019 which states that smartphones’ premium trend fuels growth.

Global demand for smartphones declined in the last year by 3% YoY to 1.44 billion units worldwide, according to the report, as consumers’ trends switched from having the newest model to retaining smartphones for longer periods.

The report states that consumers are preferring to pay higher prices for premium models with great features and retain the models for longer periods of time.

Approximately 12% of smartphones sold cost more than US$800 in 2018, up from 9% YoY.


In Q4 2018, the lack of models with major innovations slowed sales, as consumers are waiting for 2019’s new models, like the Samsung S10 range announced last week.

Mid-range models continued to perform well, accounting for 46% of global smartphone sales, up 2% YoY.

Chinese brands are becoming increasingly common internationally, especially Huawei, with 40% of Chinese brands’ smartphones purchased out of China, up 31% from 2016.

Although demand in China declined 19% YoY in Q4 2018, continued demand in Emerging Asia (up 13% YoY) and Europe (up 3% YoY) helped partially offset the decline.

Wearables experienced an increased YoY demand up 16% and sales up 35%, driven GfK says by the rise of SIM-enabled smartwatches which accounted for 17% of wearables sales value, which is up 8% YoY.

GfK’s Telecommunication expert, Igor Richter, states in the report that gaming smartphones may be the way of the future, as they convert high-end premium specs into “new experiences.”

“High-end gaming has been reigned by the PC industry…However, there is an untapped potential for more demanding gaming on the smartphone. Despite the relatively small smartphone screens compared with PC’s, their fast chipsets, sharp displays and increased battery capacity makes these gaming smartphones ideal handsets to deliver the processing power hungry gaming experience on the go.”

For more information, read GfK’s press release here.

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