Advanced Television

Forecast: 5G smartphones to reach 278m

September 11, 2020

Analyst firm Canalys projects global 5G smartphone shipments will reach nearly 280 million units in 2020, with 62 per cent of these in Greater China, followed by North America and EMEA. Overall smartphone volumes are projected to decline 10.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019, while a rebound of 9.9 per cent is expected in 2021, with the market to exceed 1.3 billion units.

“Global smartphone shipments are rebounding rapidly in many markets ahead of the economic and retail consumption recovery,” notes Canalys Senior Analyst, Ben Stanton. “Smartphone vendors have relentlessly pushed new product launches, as well as online marketing and sales during the post-lockdown period, generating strong consumer interest for the latest gadgets. Gradual reopening of offline stores, improving logistics and production have provided necessary uplift for most markets to move into a more stabilised second half of 2020. And with the holiday season about to kick off, there is no doubt 5G is about to be thrust into spotlight.”

Canalys sees the rapid commoditisation of 5G smartphones in mainland China as a critical factor behind the huge 5G smartphone shipments this year.

“As Realme launched its V3 in September, the first sub-$150 (RMB999) 5G smartphone in China, 5G officially becomes a feature for entry-level smartphones,” advises Canalys Analyst, Shengtao Jin. “This milestone has arrived three months earlier than expected and will have a significant ripple effect in other regions, such as Southeast Asia, EMEA, and even Latin America where Chinese vendors are expanding.

“The economies of scale provided by the China market will allow vendors to launch more affordable 5G smartphones in other countries, even if 5G infrastructure in those markets is not fully ready. It is expected that by 2021, nearly 60 per cent of 5G smartphone shipments in China will be cheaper than US$400, while 5G penetration in China will reach 83 per cent in the next 12 months,” commented Jin.

Europe will be the third largest region behind Greater China and North America in terms of 5G penetration in 2020 and 2021, driven by multiple forces.

“Fairly aggressively-priced 5G devices are already available in Europe, such as the Motorola G 5G Plus, and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G,” says Stanton. “But with many Apple-centric markets, such as the UK, there is a large base of customers willing to wait for an iPhone with 5G. Another headache for mobile operators in Europe is the ongoing uncertainty around Huawei, as it looks increasingly likely that supply chain constraints will hinder its volume potential. Huawei was long-expected to play a major role in 5G smartphone adoption, and other brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo and TCL are already positioning themselves to fill any vacuum as it appears.” commented.

ASP of 5G in Europe is expected to come down, but more steadily, considering Apple and Samsung’s share in this region, reaching at $765 in 2021 and $477 in 2024.

Worldwide 5G enabled smartphone shipment forecasts (market share and annual growth)
Region 2020
market share


market share
Greater China  172 62 per cent  305 56 per cent 77 per cent
North America  42 15 per cent  92 17 per cent 118 per cent
Europe, Middle East & Africa  31 11 per cent  76 14 per cent 141 per cent
Asia Pacific (excludes Greater China)  29 11 per cent  57 11 per cent 95 per cent
Latin America  3 1 per cent  13 2 per cent 342 per cent
Total  278 100 per cent  544 100 per cent 95 per cent
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding

Source: Canalys Smartphone Analysis, (sell-in shipment forecasts), September 2020


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