What's New ?
1) Key Trends and Forecasts:
There are key overarching issues affecting both shipments of mobile devices and the associated supply chains for all product segments, which have impacted global markets, namely:
The ongoing effects of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
• Ongoing China-U.S. trade wars
• Chipset supply shortages
• War in Ukraine
• Macroeconomic uncertainties
The global economy is still suffering from the aftershock effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which from the outset caused mass disruption to production lines and supply chains, and it is still being felt by further lockdown measures being enforced in China. In addition, ongoing geopolitical trade wars and shortages of key components have suppressed growth in the consumer sector for the past 2 years, while markets have since deteriorated due to additional waves of disruption caused by the war in Ukraine, its impact on inflation rates, and the worsening global cost of living crisis. Such global risk factors, when combined, can suppress the rate of technological progress and 5G development, putting on hold promises of new consumer device advancements, features, innovation, and user experiences.
Moreover, inflationary pressures caused by prevailing economic conditions and the geopolitical environment have significantly influenced variables, such as raw material prices, wages, and interest rates, limiting consumer spending and decelerating demand for more discretionary purchase items, most notably consumer electronic goods. Ultimately, these issues have all combined to hit consumer confidence and make stakeholders more cautious, which has led to market uncertainties that are becoming a major impediment to the development of the devices ecosystem and vendor landscape. While market confidence is under such pressure, including the heightened risk of recession, it is proving difficult to forecast the speed at which future demand will recover in the short- and mid-term across regions, as well as for the many product types contained within the consumer devices sector.
Market pressure caused by macro uncertainties, geopolitical concerns, and supply issues persisted into 2H 2022 and beyond, but demand for some consumer devices is forecast to remain solid. Indeed, despite the adverse impact of these multiple factors being felt mostly by the smartphones market, it has been remarkably resilient since 2020, notably for the high-end and 5G devices on which the effect of supply chains has been relatively minimal. This has coincided with the availability of 5G smartphone models becoming more diverse, brought to market quickly at a wide variety of price points, accelerating affordability and adoption.
Changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic have had a direct impact on some device sectors, creating spikes in demand for items like tablets, notebooks, wearables, and accessories, due mainly to the increase in home working, remote learning, and online entertainment consumption. Moreover, consumers have become more attuned to their own health tracking and wellbeing during this period, driving market growth for smartwatches, sport and fitness bands, and other healthcare devices, aided, in turn, by advances in sensors, power management, wireless communication, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, demand for devices like tablets, laptops, and Chromebooks contracted in 2022. This was not only as a result of the hangover from pandemic lockdowns when consumers loaded up on such products, but also because these devices tend to be more discretionary, inflationary-sensitive purchases. There is also little to suggest what the replacement cycle is for such devices, but it is clearly nowhere near as fast as that for smartphones. Despite this expected continued decline, future demand (and replacement cycles) could be boosted by the launch of new notebook models and tablets that feature improvements in displays, weight, and functionality, providing richer user experiences.
For the smartphone market, while there was much to be optimistic about as countries finally emerged from the pandemic, the market has been suppressed by macroeconomic headwinds and inflationary pressures. It is the balance between the impact of these disrupters on the industry against gradually seeing supply chains, buyer behavior, and demand slowly return to some level of normalcy, led by 5G device affordability as a primary growth driver, which will determine any future growth. Moreover, the market’s speed of recovery and consumer sentiment will affect shipment growth, but could potentially be buoyed by consumers' eagerness to embrace new innovative mobile experiences and services, enhanced broadband speeds, leading-edge form factors (e.g., foldable devices), and greater processing power. However, the challenging headwinds and notable inventory corrections conspired to outweigh any growth potential in 2022, which tempered smartphone demand.
In response, ABI Research’s global smartphone shipments in 2022 and 2023 were adjusted downward from original estimates, in terms of both total market and 5G devices, with susceptibility to changes in the economic climate and geopolitical volatility reflected rationally in the revised data. The total smartphones market declined 9.6% YoY in 2022 to reach 1.207 billion units, while 5G smartphones grew 26% in 2022 to around 756 million, forming 62% of total smartphones. ABI Research anticipates that the market will see a 2.4% increase in smartphone shipments in 2023 as markets show some signs of recovery from current pressures.
Compared to the financial crisis of 2008, it is the mid-to-low smartphone tiers that have again been squeezed, related mainly to Android devices, while the premium and high end remained resilient, relatively unaffected by economic fluctuations. The release of new flagship products during the latter half of 2022, notably from Apple and Samsung, as well as high-end Android launches, mainly in China, helped redress the balance, particularly during the strong 4Q 2022 holiday season. This growth will be boosted further as the market continues its transition to 5G, notably in fledgling markets like India, and feature phones are replaced by smartphones. Moreover, there are signs that softened demand in some markets, such as China, will rebound into 2023, reinforcing a sustainable path to recovery as confidence returns.
From the supply side, these macro issues have had an impact on raw materials and the supply of major components, such as Systems-on-Chip (SoCs) and image sensors, which have also suffered due to weak seasonality and inventory adjustments. As a consequence of the pandemic, many companies have been forced to revisit their production strategies and supply chain management to minimize disruption, while also building up inventory. Indeed, many companies have been careful with inventory, as they attempt to navigate their way through the current market environment.
Under current, highly challenging market conditions, which have taken a massive toll on both demand and supply chain, it will take a few quarters moving into 2023 for markets to return to something resembling normalcy as consumer confidence makes its return and demand in the devices sector recovers. However, some countries and sectors could potentially face a much longer road back to economic recovery, while conventions and behaviors in the mobile devices ecosystem will inevitably be severely challenged in the longer term. Moreover, the effect of higher inflation and commodity prices is expected to lead to a decline in real disposable income and dampen consumption in the short term, while fundamental changes in consumer buying behavior may affect replacement cycles and levels of affordability. However, it will prove to be the strength of demand in the form of increasing economic growth and consumer confidence that will ultimately show that the market is responding and on the road to recovery.
2) Mobile Handsets/Phones = Feature Phones + Smartphones:
2.1) Overall Handsets Market
• Although global smartphone shipments dropped 9.6% YoY in 2022, the market is expected to see growth of 2.4%, in 2023 reaching shipments of 1.24 billion worldwide. Arguably, the market effects of the pandemic are now overshadowed by geopolitical trade wars, macroeconomic headwinds, inflationary pressures, and supply chain issues that are set to become a major impediment to the future development of the mobile devices market.
• Huawei has been a key market casualty from the fallout of the geopolitical wars as shipments have been dwindling and is expected to exit the smartphone market in 2023.
• LG dropped out of the smartphone market in 3Q 2021, citing enormous competitive pressures.
• Apple sales have beaten expectations in the past 2 years, buoyed by the introduction of 5G iPhones in 2020, which has also been boosted by its "super cycle" of users, and a 5G iPhone SE model in March 2022, which is a volume driver in the lower price tier segment.
• HONOR brand is filling in some of the demand left behind by Huawei, now including the high end, and has been effective at extending its portfolio into the high end.
• OPPO shipment growth is expected to outstrip the market as it moves successfully into areas outside China, notably Europe and the Middle East & Africa, while benefitting from Huawei's decline.
• Samsung has seen a see-sawing of its shipments from quarter to quarter over the past year, but is expected to keep relatively flat sales over the next 18 months as the comparative slump of its high-end models are balanced by continued success in the mid-range, including 5G models.
• vivo has both China and India remaining as critical markets for it, and the company has benefitted from the demise of Huawei, but it has also been hit by the slowdown in its home market in 2022.
• Xiaomi shipments are expected to continue owing to increasing share in key markets of India and China, as well as improving share rapidly in markets beyond Asia, notably in Latin America, Africa, and West Europe, which is due to its competitive pricing, mainly in 5G.
• "Others" in the high-end sector is held by premium models from Motorola (including foldable) and OnePlus. The mid-range is bolstered by growth of vendors, such as realme and the Transsion group (Itel, Infinix, and Tecno).
2.2) 5G Smartphones
• The 5G smartphone market is outperforming its predecessor generations on nearly every metric, becoming the most accelerated mobile technology generation ever. Its share of total smartphone shipments more than doubled from 20.7% in 2020 to 44.8% in 2021, driven by the availability of 5G models from all major brands across the price tiers. 5G’s share of total smartphone shipments hit 44.8% in 2021 and 62% in 2022.
• The impact of COVID-19 on 5G supply chains has been minimal with the availability of smartphone models becoming more diverse, brought to market quickly at a wide variety of price points, democratizing the 5G experience, accelerating 5G affordability and adoption.
• Many leading OEMs will continue pushing deeper into the lower-priced 5G smartphone segment, including Apple in 2022 with the launch of the 5G iPhone SE, which will become the main growth driver for accelerating adoption.
• 5G growth will be aided by the continuing availability of more affordable 5G chipsets, from companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, and UNISOC.
• The charge to 5G was initially led by the key markets of the United States, Japan, and South Korea, reflecting the market’s high-end profile, but it is the latter introduction of the China market at the end of 2019 that predominated in 2020 and 2021, boosting sales further.
• Most regions were far more aggressive regarding 5G in 2021 and the addition of large emerging markets, including India, before the end of 2022, helped create even greater demand for devices in the low-to-mid range that will accelerate further 5G affordability and adoption.
• The industry’s move toward the use of 5G New Radio (NR) Millimeter Wave (mmWave) technology had been challenging to be of practical use in mobile devices, mainly due to limited coverage and being overtly costly to implement. However, many of these technology barriers have been overcome and 5G mmWave is now a commercial reality in smartphones. The complexity of integrating mmWave has been addressed through the use of an evolved system approach and a fully integrated Radio Frequency (RF) module design, offering improved performance, latency, reliability, and efficiency.
• After a slow start, mainly limited to the U.S. market, ecosystem momentum for mobile mmWave is gathering pace as a number of regions are targeting deployments, expanding across North America, Europe, and Asia, led by operators in the countries of Japan, Russia, Italy, South Korea, China, and Australia. However, associated 5G mmWave smartphone sales have stalled, limited mainly to just the U.S. market and flagship smartphones, notably because of delays in mmWave network rollouts as COVID-19 pushed out operator/network rollouts more than expected, specifically in Asian countries.
• From 2022 onward, there is expected to be a spike in demand due to continued growth in more availability of 5G mmWave smartphone models, notably in Apple and Samsung portfolios, and rollout of mmWave networks in more regions. In addition, MediaTek added mmWave RFFE to its portfolio in 2022 to accompany its already-announced mmWave modem, which may help drive down price points further and potentially engage more Chinese smartphone vendors. This could grow volume substantially, moreso if mmWave does eventually roll out in China.
• The United States has been a leader in the race for mmWave deployments due to early access to mmWave spectrum. Expected that there would be some deployments In Europe, but only a small number of countries have assigned mmWave spectrum for the use of 5G. In Asia, the assumption was that as 5G grows in the region, devices from Samsung and possibly Apple (and others), notably in South Korea, Australia, and Japan, would start to carry mmWave, but this seems not yet to be the case. Growth in Latin America and the Middle East are expected to be minimal for the next few years, while there are no 5G mmWave smartphones expected to be sold in Africa until 2024 at the earliest.
• Even with indicators that mmWave is beginning to appear in greater numbers, now including Apple iPhone Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), and has matured enough to support ultra-thin foldable smartphone designs, it is not expected to account for more than 10% of total smartphone sales in 2023.
• An mmWave smartphone sales inflection point is expected by 2023 as it is forecast that, by this stage, mobile operators will need to extend their network capacity and performance beyond sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz), forcing many to turn to mmWave. From here, the market is to see a momentum swing to mmWave, beyond just North America, as it becomes the only option to increase 5G capacity and as a performance extension.
3) Major Model and Data Revisions and Changes
The mobile devices market dataset has gone through some fundamental changes that are designed to streamline the service, making it more focused and actionable, with particular regard to 5G. Specifically, the following changes have been implemented in this product and future editions:
• Removal of tables related to mature and outdated segmentations, namely by Operating System (OS), smartphone features, pricing, etc.
• Greater segmentation granularity of 5G devices, e.g., Standalone (SA) versus Non-Standalone (NSA), mmWave, and sub-6 GHz.
• Addition of datasets related to RFFE and modem markets, to include vendor shares in future editions.
4) General Changes to Current Edition:
The most prominent changes to this edition are:
• Addition of new chipsets historic data, showing silicon vendor market shares for chipsets used in global smartphone volume shipments, estimated by quarter, in the following segmentations:
- By chipset type
- Integrated modem-application processor
- Modem only
- Application processor only
- By technology
Other recently adopted changes include:
• Historical quarterly data in tables have been removed to show from 1Q 2020 only. However, data back to 2010 can be accessed through some of the pivot tables, dashboards and previously published products.
• All tables related to OSs have been deleted due to the maturity of the segmentation.
• All tables related to smartphone features and pricing have been removed.
• The introduction of a new “network technologies” group splits, creating more granular 5G segmentations, as follows:
- 2G/3G/4G Classic: 2G/3G/4G
- LTE-Advanced: 4G+
- LTE-Advanced Pro: 4G+
- 5G: 5G
- Sub-6 GHz
- Sub-6 GHz+mmWave
• Addition of 5G smartphones sheet, showing estimated historic quarterly 5G smartphone shipments globally by vendor and total by region.
• Addition of new dashboard and pivot table showing vendor 5G shipments.
• Addition of new RFFE components sheet, given use of various component by smartphones in technology groups:
- RF transceiver
- Envelope tracker
- Power amplifiers
- Antenna tuners
- Antenna diversity switch
- Antenna switch
- End-to-end solution
• New MBB forecasts by device type by technology standard
• New Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) device shipments data added
- FWA historical data by vendor share from 1H 2018
- FWA forecasts by region
- FWA forecasts by network technology
• Addition of realme as a discrete vendor, with data included from 1Q 2022 for all handsets, smartphones, and 5G smartphone vendor sheets.
• Main historic shipments data are updated quarterly.
• 1Q 2023 historical shipments have been added to tables and pivot data for mobile phones and smartphones by vendor and by region.
• Forecasts for 2023 and beyond have been reviewed and downgraded due to the still ongoing impact on the market caused by COVID-19, consequences of the U.S.-China trade war, the macroeconomic climate, and chipset supply shortages.
• 5G shipments growth was higher than expected in 2022, and the market increased thereafter for data points from 2023 to 2025.
• New table added showing 5G smartphone shipments share of total by vendor.
• 5G mmWave data lower than expected in 2022 and forecasts downgraded due to the lack of smartphone availability and limited network rollouts beyond North America.
• Forecasts have been updated and now include through to 2028.
5) Further Reading
• 5G-Advanced Consumer Devices Forecasts (MD-5GADEV-102, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-5GADEV/), 2Q 2023
• Mobile Accessories and Wearables Market Share and Forecasts (MD-WEAR-108, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-WEAR/), 14Q 2023
• Future 5G Mobile Devices: Reported Features and Functionality (PT-2597, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/7781916-future-5g-mobile-devices-reported-features/), 1Q 2023
• Emergent Mobile Device Technology Tracker (MD-MDET-171, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-MDET/), 4Q 2022