During 2020, retail current value sales of mobile phones declined sharply due in large part to the economic shock of the pandemic, with international supply chain disruption also an issue. They will rebound moderately in 2021, as economic conditions stabilise and consumers trade up to more expensive handsets with larger screens, higher resolution screens and 5G compatibility.
Samsung-Electrónica Portuguesa SA will consolidate its leadership position in retail volume sales of smartphones during 2021. It had been briefly overtaken by Huawei in 2019, but the Chinese player lost significant volume share after the US government prohibited it from installing Google’s Android operating system on its smartphones on the grounds of national security, making the brand less attractive to Portuguese consumers.
Other Chinese brands – Xiaomi, TCL, Oppo, and Realme – are also growing in popularity. Like Huawei, they offer relatively high specification phones at attractive price points – a particularly popular combination in a difficult economic environment – in addition to basic models at very competitive prices.
Retail current value sales of mobile phones will exhibit a modest decline during the forecast period as a whole, as replacement purchases increasingly dominate demand. However, retail current value sales will be supported by consumers steadily upgrading to more expensive products, such as 5G-compatible handsets, which will lead to an acceleration in the rate of unit price growth.
Among the potential challengers to Samsung, Xiaomi appears the best placed. Its products appeal to price-conscious consumers in particular, as they are priced significantly lower than other brands with similar specifications.
While retail volume sales of feature phones will decline at an accelerated pace during the forecast period (more than halving) they will remain attractive to some. The primary users of feature phones will remain elderly consumers who do not use the internet and find smartphones too complex.
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This report originates from Passport, our Mobile Phones research and analysis database.
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