Thanks to the pandemic, universal smartphone manufacturing could see a record drop this quarter

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Production of iPhones - and all mobile phones - will be much less as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concept: PhoneArena

Global smartphone production could see a record fall of up to 16.5 percent in the second quarter of this year thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new research report.

Market intelligence firm Trendforce reported Thursday new numbers backing multiple other studies that predict worldwide production of mobile phones – including the iPhone – will fall to 287 million units. For the year, Trendforce forecasts a total yearly production volume of 1.24 billion units, an 11.3% decrease year on year.

Prior to the pandemic, TrendForce expected Apple to produce some 200 million iPhones for the year. Following evidence that iPhone production fell 8.7 percent year on year in the first quarter, Apple only produced 37.9 million units.

As the company releases the new iPhone SE with a consumer-friendly price tag in 2Q20, quarterly iPhone production is expected to stay relatively close to 1Q20 figures, reaching 36 million units. Apple is still planning to release four new 5G handsets in 2H20, but whether the pandemic’s influence will weaken the demand for iPhones going forward remains a noteworthy concern, since iPhones sell at a relatively high retail price, and the iPhone’s primary sales regions are the European and U.S. markets, which are in the midst of dealing with COVID-19.

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Whether in the first quarter or second quarter of 2020, Apple will hold firm to its third place in mobile phone production worldwide.

5G phone momentum to be slow

Trendforce projects that yearly 5G smartphone production will reach 200 million units depending on the performance of the Chinese market. 

“Consumers generally have a speculative attitude towards purchasing 5G handsets,” the repor said. “These two factors diminished the smartphone market’s momentum of transitioning from 4G into 5G in [the first half of 2020].”

“At the moment, as brands fight over 5G market shares, the yearly forecast of 5G smartphone production volume remains around the 200 million unit mark, with a 16% penetration rate in the overall smartphone market. In particular, Chinese brands occupy over 60% of 5G smartphone market share, with the domestic Chinese market as their primary sales region.”

As Cult of Mac reported last week, Apple is currently planning to release four iPhone 12 models, all with 5G support: One will feature a 5.4-inch display; two will feature 6.1-inch displays; and the fourth will feature a 6.7-inch display — the biggest yet for an iPhone.