Mobile phone shipments are expected to slide slightly in 2016 as part of a broader slowdown of worldwide device shipments, but will return to growth next year, Gartner said Thursday.
According to the new report, shipments of mobile phones are forecast to drop 1.6 percent this year to 1.89 billion units before creeping back into the black in 2017. However, shipment figures of an estimated 1.91 billion units in 2017 are expected to remain below 2015 levels and won’t surpass them until 2018, Gartner said.
While overall mobile shipments are expected to fall this year, Gartner noted utility mobile phones – also known as entry-level devices – are expected to show single-digit growth.
The phone shipment slide reflects a broader decrease in shipments of devices including phones, PCs and ultramobiles. Gartner said overall device shipments are set to fall three percent in 2016, with growth on track to remain flat over the next five years.
“The global devices market is not on pace to return to single-digit growth soon,” Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal said.
Within the mobile phone segment, Gartner said the smartphone market continues to grow and is expected to reach 1.5 billion units in 2016. Still, Gartner said the total smartphone market will only increase 4.5 percent in 2016, with premium smartphones declining 1.1 percent.
Apple in particular is expected to have a weak year after a “very strong” 2015 performance, Gartner said, while Android will be bolstered by Chinese vendors.
But smartphones won’t be down for long, thanks in part to stronger replacement cycles that are expected in 2017.
“We expect the market for premium smartphones to return to 3.5 per cent growth in 2017, as stronger replacement cycles kick in and in anticipation of a new iPhone next year, which is expected to offer a new design and new features that are attractive enough to convince more replacement buyers,” Gartner Research Director Roberta Cozza said.