Apple is expected to expand production of its popular iPhone lineup despite a global slowdown in smartphone production growth, TrendForce predicted.

TrendForce noted Apple increased its production volume by a scant 3 per cent in 2017 despite buzz around the iPhone X due to what it called “technical barriers”. Looking ahead though, TrendForce reported new iPhone models in 2018 will come with improvements to FaceID biometrics, the screen-to-body ratio, memory and AMOLED displays that are expected to drive demand and push production to 7.5 per cent growth.

The X factor
Counterpoint and Wave 7 Research recently reported it took until the second week of December for iPhone X supply to catch up with demand following the device’s release in early November.

Data from Flurry Analytics shows Apple dominated holiday smartphone and tablet activations in the week prior to Christmas, handily beating second-place Samsung’s 26 per cent with a total of 44 per cent. However, Apple’s new iPhones were hardly at the top of the pack. Both the iPhone 7 (15.1 per cent) and iPhone 6 (14.9 per cent) beat out the iPhone X (14.7 per cent) in activation share, and the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus fell in line behind the older iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 Plus.

Global plateau
Apple aside, TrendForce forecasted an overall dip in global smartphone production growth from 6.5 per cent in 2017 to just 5 per cent in 2018 as vendors face higher component costs. Facing competition from rapidly growing Chinese vendors, TrendForce said Samsung production volume will drop by 3 per cent year over year in 2018. Chinese vendors Oppo and Vivo will also face hurdles as they achieve saturation in their home market, causing their respective production totals to drop by 10 per cent year over year.

“[The] smartphone growth trend is coming to a plateau period despite ambitious performances of Chinese brands, and the industry will not be able to deliver the same impressive results as in the past years, when the market always had a double-digit growth,” the firm wrote.

All told, TrendForce estimated global smartphone production to hit nearly 1.53 billion units in 2018.