Consumers aren’t flocking to buy mobile phones like they used to. In 2019 it’s estimated that global shipments of mobile phones will decline by 68 million units, or 3.8%, compared to the preceding year. This will mark the worst decrease to date for smartphones since they entered the market.
The lower demand is attributed to consumers holding onto their phones for longer than they used to, the increase in prices of flagship smartphone models, and to consumer desire for dramatic changes in experience which current models of smartphone aren’t providing. If mobile phones don’t provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users won’t upgrade them, and will consequently increase these devices’ life spans.
To combat this decline, mobile phone manufacturers and networks will try to lure consumers with 5G-enabled devices in the coming year. The 5G mobile phone industry promises to offer consumers speeds up to 100 times faster than current 4G speeds, allowing for instant 4K definition streaming, the ability to download entire games and movies almost instantly and increased connectivity with the growth of ‘Smart Cities’ and the Internet of Things that 5G speeds will help facilitate.
At the moment, there are only a handful of 5G phones available on the market, including the recently released Samsung Galaxy S10, and 5G networks are only available in limited areas in select UK cities for the time being, meaning true access to a 5G network is limited.
Will the hype around 5G mobile phone industry provide the shot in the arm that the sector needs? We’re still a little way off from 5G being easily accessible so it’s hard to say just how revolutionary it will be in changing the way we use our phones and smart tech, and at present, only a handful of devices are 5G enabled.
In the mean time, consumers are looking to the recycled mobile phone market when they need a replacement device. The lower prices, increase in professional refurbishers like CeX and Game increasing their second-hand offerings, as well as increased awareness around environmental issues all mean that the second-hand mobile phone market is entering somewhat of a golden age, growing significantly while sales of new devices are falling.
Whether the roll-out of 5G will reverse this trend remains to be seen.