back to article Smartphone shipments plummet in Q1 as users, er, lock down their spending

Early forecasts of the Q1 smartphone sector made for grim reading, with appetite expected to be severely suppressed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequent analysis from Canalys shows those forecasts were bang-on, with worldwide shipments into the channel falling by 13 per cent year-on-year, to just over 272 million units …

  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    The phones aren't what people want. Prices have doubled but designs are still conservative, minimalist, and dated. If anything, phone makers are competing in camera megapixels like it's 2010. Folding phones were promising but too fragile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or

      Or, everybody knows that 5G is coming but currently the phones are overpriced and the chipsets a bit crap. Those of us who got caught out with 1st generation 4G won't be fooled again.

      Yes sales down due to CV, trade wars and so on, but 5G not nearly a good enough reason to ignore those factors.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Or

        My Samsung S5 doesn't have any real G4 just G3.5 crap and that's finally supported anywhere nowadays.

        My new Nokia 1 has G4 and I bought it last year.

        And I still use my Nokia N8 as a MP3 player.

        So I don't have any motivation to buy a new phone, not until 2022 at least.

      2. SWCD

        Re: Or

        The 10-15 people in my immediate/close family wouldn't have a clue what 5G is or what came before it; two of them I've shown how to use WhatsApp to in the last month so they can send photos back and forth. My family can't be that dissimilar to everyone elses? I work in the tech field and am into year 25 of owning a mobile, and I've no idea without looking what the max speed is of 4G vs 5G. All I know is, I can hotspot my phone to my laptop when needed, I can HDMI or mirror it to hotel TV's, and I can watch Netflix/YouTube unhindered. That's on top of the usual phone calls and emails.

        Point being, I think you overestimate the draw of 5G?

  2. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I suspect phone sales are going to be down for some time to come due to the inevitable recession which is looming. Without as much spare cash people will keep hold of their handsets for longer and replace them when they break or are no longer unsupported, rather than because the phone manufacturers have released new shiny shiny with 6 cameras for marginally better looking photos.

    1. SWCD

      I genuinely don't think many have thought that far ahead from what I hear from people I speak to and the shite I consume on Facebook. A majority are still happy to be at home and want more of it, mention money, it doesn't seem to have registered it'll all need clawing back.

      At least in my pool of contacts, I think the reason is simply phones have reached the peak of what they can offer. People can do everything they need to, and they can do it SIM-free. My current phone from EE is unlimited minutes/text/data for £28 a month (ex-VAT). Another is about £14 for unlimited minutes/texts and about 20GB of data. A phone that does everything Joe Public wants to do is on eBay for less than a hundred quid. Gone are the days people are willing to sign up for 3yrs and pay £60 a month.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Technological stagnation

        At least in my pool of contacts, I think the reason is simply phones have reached the peak of what they can offer.

        A phone is like a Swiss Army pen knife - lots of tools but all pretty rubbish because of space limitations. e.g. You are stuck with a tiny 4 mm lens with a 4 mm focal length, and no amount of fancy electronics can fix that. Ditto antennas, user interfaces, batteries, speakers, buttons, and so on.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      There will still be a demand for cheap phones. Nokia 2.3 for the win!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Follow the money

    So phone sales have dropped because of the anticipated economic downfall - so that suggests that the majority of phone sales are to people who don't have a lot of money and are busy trying to make sure that they can eat and feed their kids too. If it was the wealthy folk buying most of the phones then we would probably not have seen a downfall of this level, maybe just a dip.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Follow the money

      If it was the wealthy folk buying most of the phones then we would probably not have seen a downfall of this level, maybe just a dip.

      I expect many high end phones are bought as status items. No point buying something flashy that will become passe within a few months if there is no-one you can flash it to.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Follow the money

        Whats the point in buying a new phone, if you can't flash it about down the pub because of the lockdown!

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    My phone already does everything I need it to. More than I need it to. Has been that way for several years now. I didn't need 4G and I don't need 5G. I only replace them when the battery starts to fail. Guess we know why manufacturers don't make it easy to replace batteries any longer.

  5. Jedit

    "... selling 17 per cent fewer units than in Q1 2020"

    Hang on - I thought the article is discussing sales figures in Q1 2020? If so, shouldn't this be "... than in Q1 2019"?

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So they're still making 80% of their sales ?

    We're locked in, nowhere to go, hooked on Internet at home at they are still making 80% of their previous quarter in sales ?

    Really ? What is it going to take to make people stop buying phones for ten bloody minutes, a 20km-wide asteroid ?

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