Upgrade fatigue drags down smartphone shipments in Q1: IDC

Consumers in China are holding on to their old smartphones for longer instead of upgrading to the latest devices, dragging down smartphone shipments globally.

Consumers in China are holding on to their old smartphones for longer instead of upgrading to the latest devices, dragging down smartphone shipments globally, according to IDC.

The research firm's latest Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that shipments in the China market dipped below the 100 million mark for the first time since 2013. Globally, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 336.1 million units during Q1, a 2.4 percent decline from the same quarter a year ago.

"The abundance of ultra-high-end flagships with big price tags released over the past 12-18 months has most likely halted the upgrade cycle in the near term," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's quarterly mobile tracker.

"It now looks as if consumers are not willing to shell out this kind of money for a new device that brings minimal upgrades over their current device. Looking forward, more affordable premium devices might be the solution the market needs in the second half of the year to drive shipments back in a positive direction."

The smartphone vendor lineup doesn't deviate much from previous quarters, with Samsung and Apple remaining in the top two spots. Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO round out the top five.

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Smartphone shipments have been leveling off for some time now. According to IDC, total shipments for 2017 were 1.472 billion, down by less than one percent from the 1.473 billion devices shipped in 2016, but still the first annual drop in five years.

Shipments in 2015 were 1.433 billion; 2014 shipments reached 1.3 billion after hitting one billion for the first time in 2013. In 2012, shipments rang up at just 725 million.

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