Demand for personal computers may be up due to all the people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it looks like demand for smartphones is down… way down.

Research from IDC and Canalys shows that smartphone shipments during the first quarter of 2020 were down by 12 to 13 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. TrendForce says smartphone production also fell by 10 percent.

Overall, this represents the biggest year-over-year contraction of the smartphone market for as long as smartphones have been a thing.

Samsung Galaxy A21 and A51

It’s not hard to guess the reasons for the decline:

  • With the pandemic hitting China early in the year, there were supply chain issues in January and February. But as the coronavirus spread across the globe, it caused an economic crisis affecting the demand side of the equation.
  • A lot of people have suddenly become unemployed or underemployed and may not be looking to spend money on a new phone — particularly at a time when flagship phone prices are hovering around the $1000 mark.
  • Many bricks and mortar stores where people might by phones have been closed for at least part of the quarter.
  • If you’re not leaving the house all that much, how important is it to replace your aging phone with a new model?

Canalys suggests that many people still buying phones are doing so because they need to replace a broken or lost device… but many folks who view phones as luxury purchases may be holding off on upgrades for now.

Interestingly not all phone makers saw a decline in shipments. Chinese companies Xiaomi and Vivo both saw upticks in Q1, 2020 while Samsung, Huawei, and Apple all saw declines.

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  1. I can understand the increase in sales for computers since – as is stated – more people working from home / staying at home and needing a way to get online; games, school work, work from home, etc.

    Like other posts / replies, the high costs of new phones (at least some of them) could hinder sales plus people being out of work.

    Perhaps once this pandemic is over, the trend would reverse?

  2. Yes, the global pandemic.

    The pandemic of phones with High Prices (USD $$), Less Features (3.5mm/microSD), and Weaker Durability (glass design, long aspect ratio). It is like a virus infecting every single OEM and every single phone model.