Gartner predicted worldwide smartphone shipments would decline by the largest margin in the market’s history in 2019, prior to a rebound in 2020 fuelled by the commercial implementation of 5G.

The research company expects shipments to drop 3.2 per cent in 2019 after the market reached “a tipping point” with over 5 billion mobile phones used around the world.

Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner, explained this is due to consumers holding onto their phones longer, “given the limited attraction of new technology”.

5G impact
Gartner added 5G launches will boost smartphone sales and fuel growth of 2.9 per cent in 2020, as operators look to woo subscribers by highlighting the faster speeds, improved network availability and enhanced security the technology offers.

“As soon as providers better align their early performance claims for 5G with concrete plans, we expect to see 5G phones account for more than half of phone sales in 2023”, Atwal said.

The analyst company also predicted the share of 5G-capable phones to increase from 10 per cent in 2020 to 56 per cent by 2023, despite expecting less than half of global operators to have launched commercial 5G networks by then.

Overall, it expects shipments of all 5G-capable devices (including IoT products) to grow from 2.5 million units in 2020 to 48.6 million by 2023, and continue upward to 324.1 million units in 2028, or 2.1 per cent of the overall device market.

Gartner also predicted PC shipments will decline 1.5 percent to 255.7 million units this year, with shipments of consumer desktops set to drop 9.8 per cent year-on-year.

Atwal said the consumer PC market is challenged by demand for high-value products for specific tasks, such as gaming. Other factors include uncertainty over potential tariffs and Brexit.

Gartner stated global shipments of all devices (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) to decline 3.7 per cent in 2019.