Analyst company TrendForce predicted global smartphone production to begin its recovery in 2021 after dropping 11 per cent in 2020, although it forecast further bad news for Huawei with the manufacturer expected to exit its top six list.

In its market predictions for 2021 the analyst company said it expected 1.36 billion smartphones to be produced. This compares to the 1.25 billion made in 2020, as manufacturers seek to take advantage of an anticipated increase in demand in emerging markets and a general “relatively strong wave of device replacements”.

Although constituting an improvement, the figure is still below the number of devices which came off the assembly-line in 2019.

TrendForce noted a greater proportion of devices produced this year are likely to support 5G, with 37 per cent of new handsets expected to use the latest network technology compared to 19 per cent in 2020.

Despite its bullish predictions, the company said production could be scaled-back later in the year if expected demand does not materialise or if access to specific components is limited, as was the case for periods of 2020.

In terms of top manufacturers, TrendForce forecast the sale of Huawei sub-brand Honor, combined with the continued impact of US export restrictions, to cause the under-fire manufacturer to plummet to the seventh largest producer in 2021, down from third last year.

It expects the top six producers to be (in order): Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Transsion, with these companies contributing 80 per cent of all handsets produced globally.