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5G and iPhone 12 demand fuel growing smartphone shipments

Growth in India, Japan, the Middle East and Africa have helped to offset slumps in the US, China and Europe

Global smartphone shipments are expected to grow by 7.4% by the end of the year, according to IDC's quarterly mobile phone tracker.

This uptick is also predicted to continue into 2022 and 2023 as demand for Apple and 5G-based handsets grow across Asia and Africa. 

The world's largest markets - US, China and Europe - are still down compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to IDC, but growing demand for smartphones in India, Japan, the Middle East and Africa are helping to offset the stagnation.

Apple devices, such as the iPhone 12 range, have contributed 13.8% to the growth, and 5G device shipments are predicted to increase by 123%. That's more than double the growth seen during 2020, according to IDC, with 5G handsets set to make up 54% of smartphone shipments by the end of 2022. 

The iPhone 12 range - which includes a mini and 'Max Pro' version - has proved to be a hit with consumers, largely thanks to its wholesale design changes and the addition of 5G connectivity. Apple initially resisted 5G, but the 12 had helped lift the firm back to the top of the market, albeit briefly.  

"Despite the ongoing issues surrounding the pandemic and the Delta variant, consumers are continuing to upgrade to more premium smartphones this year," said Anthony Scarsella, research director of mobile phones at IDC.

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"Premium smartphones (priced at $1,000+) continued to grow in the second quarter as the segment displayed 116% growth from last year. Moreover, ASPs across the entire market climbed 9% as buyer preferences trend towards more costly 5G models than entry-level devices."

In November 2020, smartphone sales totalled 366 million units with the market showing some signs of recovery from the pandemic. However, the industry was still far below 2019 levels, with an 8.7% year-on-year decline. 

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