5G might spark turnaround in smartphone sales

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Good job, Tim! The iPhone 11 event got our heads spinning.
The iPhone 11 Pro could get upstaged by a 5G version.
Photo: Apple

That sluggish smartphone market we often write about could recover lost ground this year, with high-speed 5G networking driving upgrades.

This prediction, if true, might be the tea leaves Apple is banking on as it prepares a new lineup of iPhones featuring the much-anticipated next-gen wireless tech.

In fact, research firm Gartner, which issues an annual device shipment report, predicts rapid growth in smartphone sales over the next two years as the 5G infrastructure builds out.

Smartphone shipments in 2019 saw a 2% year-over-year decline. But Ranjit Atwall, Gartner’s senior research director, said the market is on track to grow by 1.7% as more 5G handsets become available. The report says 5G smartphones will account for 12% of all shipments this year and reach 43% by 2022.

“From 2020, Gartner expects an increase in 5G phone adoption as prices decrease, 5G service coverage increases and users have better experiences with 5G phones,” Atwal said in a written statement. “The market will experience a further increase in 2023 when 5G handsets will account for over 50% of the mobile phones shipped.”

Another day, another analyst or research firm making a prediction. Some analysts say Apple will deliver a full lineup of 5G iPhones for 2020. And yet others claim iPhone owners might have to wait until 2021 for 5G.

The growth anticipated by Gartner also will dip at times before picking up as prices of 5G phones fall and availability of 5G services surges across the globe.