Global Smartphone Sales Poised For Biggest Drop Ever During 2019

Although smartphone OEMs try their best to deliver new smartphone experiences year after year like clockwork, consumers are increasingly becoming immune to their new-device charms. According to Gartner, the mobile phone market is expected to experience its biggest downturn ever during 2019.

According to the analytics firm, global mobile phone sales are expected to drop by 3.8 percent in 2019 compared to 2018. With respect to smartphones specifically, the sales shortfall is expected to come in a 2.5 percent.

OnePlus 7 Pro display

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out at a few of the reasons for the sales decline. For starters, smartphone OEMs haven’t exactly been giving us remarkable reasons to upgrade devices every single year like we did in the past. We’re no longer witnessing dramatic year-over-year gains in performance or battery life, and feature stagnation has become a problem. 

Another big issue that consumers are facing is that the prices of smartphones – specifically flagship models – are creeping higher than ever before. Whereas a flagship smartphone from Apple or Samsung a few years would cost you maybe $599 or $699, it’s not uncommon to see these smartphones retail for $900 or more. Some high-end models of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max can approach $1,500.

The combination of a lack of significant overall progress year-over-year and rising prices means that consumers are simply sticking to their current smartphones longer and longer. According to Gartner, the average time that a consumer holds on to a flagship smartphone is expected to extend from 2.6 years to 2.9 years by the year 2023.

It’s possible that we may see a tiny uptick in sales in 2020, partially driven by the emergence of more 5G-enabled smartphones and 5G-compatible networks. “In 2020, 5G-capable phones will represent 6% of total sales of phones,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal. “As 5G service coverage increases, user experience will improve and prices will decrease. The leap will occur in 2023 when we expect 5G phones to account for 51% of phone sales.”

Tell us HotHardware readers; are you holding on to your smartphones longer and longer these days, and if so, why?