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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Dashed hopes for smartphones

This was supposed to be the year smartphones rebounded because of 5G, a faster cellular network being rolled out around the world. But then the coronavirus outbreak came along, dashing hopes of a comeback. The industry has been in a prolonged slump as innovations in smartphones have slowed down. Simply put, there hasn’t been a compelling reason for people to upgrade their phones as often as they used to. The 5G rollout was supposed to change that, as the new network requires newer, compatible phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 or 5G iPhones expected from Apple this fall. The last time the cellular industry had a major upgrade, to 4G, many people were still using flip phones. IDC had predicted a 1.5% increase in worldwide smartphone shipments this year, thanks to 5G. But the projection has now been revised to a 2% decline. Besides curtailing production of the Chinese factories where iPhones and other popular models are made, the coronavirus also dramatically reduced sales in China as many stores closed. If things return to normal, IDC expects some of this year’s lost sales to spill into next year to lift smartphone shipments by 6% in 2021.

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