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Report: Phone market might not bounce back until 2022

The growth of 5G could help revive interest, but it's going to be a tough year in 2021.

Published onAugust 27, 2020

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Apple iPhone Pro Max 1
  • IDC estimates that the smartphone market recovery likely won’t happen until 2022.
  • Growth might not return until 2021.
  • The rise of 5G might be the key to spurring demand.

The smartphone market is in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it now seems likely that a full recovery could take well over a year.

IDC analysts estimated phone shipments won’t return to pre-coronavirus levels until 2022. The researchers predicted that growth could return in 2021 with a 9% year-over-year jump. However, that’s mostly because of a dire market that’s expected to shrink by 9.5% in 2020.

Smartphone market recovery: It could be a while

The industry was supposed to return to form and end stagnation in 2020, but that’s “obviously not going to happen,” IDC said. The company estimated that shipments tumbled 17% in the second quarter as the pandemic’s full effects hit many countries.

Read more: The best 5G phones you can buy

The analysts believed that the rise of 5G would help phone demand recover, at least so long as companies drive prices down. You could see 5G phones represent half of the market by 2023, IDC said. Demand in developing countries could also help, even if a lot of the devices will be low-end and mid-range LTE phones.

However, they also believed that the near-essential nature of smartphones would play the most important role. Smartphones will still be the “computing platform of choice” for most of the planet, according to IDC.

There are some wildcards. It’s still not certain when the pandemic will subside. An extended crisis could delay recovery. Still, the estimate gives an idea of when the phone business could return to something approaching normal — and that’s good news for you, as it could lead to more companies pushing the limits of phone tech instead of playing it safe.

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