Worldwide shipments of smartphones dropped 38 per cent year-on-year in February, Strategy Analytics reported, in-line with forecasts of a sharp decline due to the impact of the global Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The research company stated the year-on-year decline was the largest ever in the history of the smartphone market: 61.8 million units were shipped during the month compared with 99.2 million during February 2019 (which also had one fewer day).

Strategy Analytics attributed the trend to both production issues, as factories were forced to close in an attempt to limit Covid-19 cases, along with a drop in consumer visits to retailers.

In a statement, Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said: “Supply and demand of smartphones plunged in China, slumped across Asia, and slowed in the rest of the world.”

The company expects weak demand to also be reflected in its March figures.

February shipment numbers follow long-term predictions from most market trackers including IDC, which expects an almost 11 per cent year-on-year drop in shipments for H1 2020.

Despite the grim forecasts, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf was last week confident on global outlook after a recent upswing in handset demand in China.

His comments came as cases of Covid-19 virus appeared to be abating in China, with handset and component production also beginning to return to normal.