Worldwide smartphone shipments fall in 2017

Smartphone sales across the world dropped in the last quarter of 2017 despite a high-profile launch from Apple, new figures have shown.

The latest report from IDC found that a disappointing holiday 2017 period meant that global smartphone shipments reached 403.5 million units during the last three months of the year, a 6.3 per cent decline compared to the same period in the previous year.

This was despite Apple launching the iPhone X late in 2017 in one of its highest-profile launches to date, with the company seeing a 1.3 per cent decline in volumes compared to 2016. However it still ended the quarter as the top smartphone vendor, shipping 77.3 million units.

World leader

Samsung ended 2017 as the world's top smartphone maker, shipping 317.3 million units in the year, a 1.9 per cent increase from 2016 as it consolidated its hold on the market.

Elsewhere, Huawei clung on to its third-place position in the global market, with strong results across all its product lines, but the company is being pursued by fellow Chinese firms Xiaomi and Oppo, the former of which doubled its share of the smartphone market.

Overall, a total of 1.472 billion units were shipped in 2017, representing a minor decrease of less than one per cent from the previous year. IDC noted that this fall appeared to be due to consumers in developed markets such as China and the United States being more reluctant to upgrade to the newest generation of higher-priced flagship devices.

"The latest flock of posh flagships may have had consumers hitting the pause button in the holiday quarter," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager, Mobile Phones at IDC. 

"With ultra-high-end flagships all the rage in 2017, many of these new bezel-less wonders proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity among upgraders. Even though we have seen new full-screen displays, advanced biometrics, and improved artificial intelligence, the new and higher price points could be outweighing the benefits of having the latest and greatest device in hand."

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.