Global smartphone sales fell for first time in Q4 2017, says Gartner

By | 23rd February 2018
Apple iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comparison

There's no question that smartphones have been getting increasingly popular over the past 10 years or so as devices get more features, faster performance, and lower prices. However, during the final months of 2017, smartphone adoption actually declined for the first time.

Gartner Research reports that during Q4 2017, global smartphone sales totaled nearly 408 million units, which is a 5.6 percent decline compared to Q4 2016. That's the first year-over-year decline that Gartner Research has found since it started tracking the smartphone market in 2004.

As for why this decline occurred, Gartner research director Anshul Gupta points to two factors. The first is upgrades from feature phones to smartphones declined due to a lack of good "ultra low-cost" smartphones and those people buying good feature phones instead. The second factor is that consumers buying a replacement smartphone are increasingly choosing to buy a quality device and keeping it longer, which lengthens the typical replacement cycle of smartphones.

This is really interesting news, but it was also bound to happen. Most smartphones have gotten to the point where they can handle the majority of tasks that their owners give them, and in recent years there hasn't been a huge new feature to give consumers a reason to upgrade. An example of something that could convince a lot of people to upgrade is 5G, but it'll be at least two or three years where the device selection and 5G coverage are wide enough to convince regular people to upgrade.

Gartner Research worldwide smartphone sales Q4 2017

Other notable tidbits from Gartner's report include Samsung being the leading smartphone manufacturer in terms of sales, taking 18.2 percent of the market share. Apple came in second with 17.9 percent, Huawei in third with 10.8 percent, Xiaomi in fourth with 6.9 percent, and Oppo in fifth with 6.3 percent.

Also of note is that Huawei and Xiaomi saw significant market share growth from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017, with Huawei growing 1.4 percent and Xiaomi growing 3.3 percent.