5G to boost smartphone shipments by a quarter, analysts predict

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The number of smartphones shipped around the world will grow by 25 percent between 2017 and 2021 as the advent of 5G boosts demand, according to new research.

Figures from CCS Insight predict worldwide smartphone shipments will rise from 1.51 billion in 2017 to 1.89 billion in 2021.

5G-capable handsets will account for around 310 million units or 15 percent of total mobile phone shipments by the end of the period, with China set to be the biggest market.

At the same time, the feature phone market will decline 63 percent from 460 million units in 2017 to 170 million in 2021, meaning that total shipments of all mobile phones will rise only five percent in the period. The analyst firm attributed the accelerating decline in feature phones to the proliferation of low-cost Android handsets and growth in social media usage.

The total value of the market will grow six percent from $375 billion in 2018 to $396 billion by 2021, as consumers switch to higher-end devices.

CCS Insight Analyst Laura Simeona said: "Flagship smartphones are breaking the rules of consumer electronics, which have traditionally fallen in price over the years. Few people will have failed to see the headlines about the $1,000 iPhone.

“We believe higher average prices reflect the greater perceived value of smartphones in people's daily lives. They also reflect the commercial reality of phone-makers trying to maintain profit margins while adding more and expensive technology to their products."

A recent report by ABI Research said SIM card shipments would exceed 5.8 million globally in 2020, with growth in the saturated Western European market lagging.