Smartphones are hot again: These are the key features we’ll want this year

Customers are experiencing new sorts of functions on good gadgets.


Picture: Getty Photographs/iStockphoto

After months of delays and declines, issues are wanting up for the smartphone business: analysis agency Gartner expects that 2021 will see 1.5 billion gadgets offered around the globe, 11.4% progress in comparison with the earlier yr. 

A brand new report launched by the agency’s analysts anticipates that smartphone shipments will come near 2019 ranges once more, after the final yr noticed a pandemic-induced dip in gross sales of greater than 10.5% year-on-year, induced partly by cautious client spending. 

Gartner’s analysts anticipate that progress might be largely pushed by the provision of inexpensive 5G-enabled gadgets, which is able to represent 35% of complete smartphone gross sales. In comparison with 2019, the variety of 5G smartphones that might be shipped subsequent yr will enhance 32-fold, to succeed in greater than half a billion models. 

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In keeping with Anshul Gupta, senior analysis director at Gartner, a serious chunk of those gross sales would have occurred over the previous yr, when shoppers ought to have began embracing 5G functions, and have now been pushed into 2021.  

“Some gross sales in 2020 had been actually pushed out due to lockdowns. Purchases of a few of the 5G fashions had been delayed into 2021,” Gupta informed ZDNet. “Product launches additionally met challenges unseen earlier than, so we noticed many product delays.

“Which means that a few of the 5G uptake that might have occurred in 2020 is now taking place in 2021, which is inflicting the large soar.” 

Regardless of the delays that Gupta identified, the variety of 5G-enabled smartphones is now rising as quick as their value is lowering. Over 150 5G gadgets launched commercially in 2020, and costs are actually ranging from a couple of lots of of {dollars}. Gupta expects that by the top of the yr, shoppers will be capable to get their arms on 5G smartphones from $200, which is able to solely contribute to increasing the market. 

The previous few months additionally noticed Apple launch the 5G-enabled iPhone 12, which Gartner’s analysts anticipate will set off a “supercycle”, as iOS customers queue as much as substitute their gadgets. 

Adoption of 5G gadgets is especially aggressive in China, the place 5G smartphones are on tempo to signify nearly 60% of all gadgets in 2021. The nation’s sturdy lead could be attributed partly to a smoother rollout of 5G know-how and the broader availability of handsets; this contrasts with areas like Western Europe the place the patchy deployment of next-generation connectivity is driving much less shoppers in the direction of 5G gadgets. 

Gupta is however adamant that client curiosity in 5G has spiked, and that consequently, a robust substitute cycle for cell phone gadgets has already began. “So far as shoppers are involved, I feel they’re undoubtedly extra curious about spending more cash on 5G telephones,” says Gupta. “They undoubtedly see the necessity, and might see what 5G can do for them.” 

Customers are experiencing new sorts of functions on good gadgets that require quicker networks, explains Gupta, pointing to the explosion of video consumption. What’s extra, with distant working tendencies exhibiting no signal of disappearing, the demand for quicker connectivity is barely set to extend. 

SEE: 5G and edge computing: The way it will have an effect on the enterprise within the subsequent 5 years

Even in markets the place 5G roll-outs are far behind, shoppers are eager to make themselves 5G-ready. “In India, for instance, 5G auctions haven’t even began to go forward,” says Gupta, “however there are 5G telephones obtainable. Why would somebody in India purchase a 5G cellphone? As a result of they anticipate networks to return anytime quickly, they usually wish to be 5G-ready.” 

As vital as 5G smartphones might be to inject a gross sales enhance within the business, Gupta famous that the remaining two-thirds of shipments will nonetheless be made up of earlier-generation telephones. In rising markets, clients might be upgrading their handsets with 4G gadgets that present higher capabilities. 

Options similar to cameras and shows are nonetheless top-of-mind for these customers, and with many inventions coming to enhance cellphone specs, Gupta says that sturdy demand will generate gross sales for non-5G gadgets too.  

“That development for the rising market will proceed, and we’ll see elevated smartphone gross sales coming from there,” he argues.  “2021 seems to be a a lot stronger yr, and there might be a robust restoration from 2020.”