According to TrendForce research, due to lower-than-expected sales in 4Q21, the smartphone market in 1Q22 not only needed to adjust its accumulated inventory of finished products, but it was also affected by sluggish seasonal demand, resulting in relatively weak 1Q22 production performance. Coupled with the impact of recent events such as the Russian-Ukrainian war and lockdowns of Chinese cities, overall production performance in 1H22 will weaken, affecting total production in 2022. The original forecast of 1.38 billion units produced will be downgraded to 1.366 billion units, with annual growth rate slipping to 2.5%. Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor the shortage of wafer production capacity has been significantly alleviated. This coupled with serious issues involving geopolitics, inflation, and energy shortages this year will generate variables in the smartphone market for 2022. Therefore, further downward revision of total 2022 production volume cannot be ruled out.
There are two key observations regarding the impact of the war on the smartphone market. First, brand sales have been suspended or have dropped sharply. According to TrendForce statistics, mobile phone sales in Russia and Ukraine account for approximately 3-4% of global market share, 85% of which are in the Russian market, with Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple as the top three Russian mobile phone brands. Since Apple and Samsung announced the suspension of all exports to Russia, vacated market share will migrate to Chinese brands. If the war can be brought under control before the end of April, estimated impact on the smartphone market in 2022 will be approximately 20 million units.
Second, the war has exacerbated global inflation, which is strongly affecting energy and food prices in particular and is rapidly spreading from Europe to the world. This also implies that personal disposable income will shrink simultaneously, resulting in a prolonged replacement cycle in the smartphone market and phenomena such as falling budgets for stand-alone purchases. Due to inflation’s broad and profound influence, it is not yet possible to determine the extent of its impact on the global smartphone market but there is indeed a high risk of downward revisions in the future.
It should be noted, in addition to the war, the pandemic will continue to affect smartphone market trends in 2022. China, the world’s largest smartphone consumer market, is still adopting a dynamic zero-COVID policy. Not only will this policy exacerbate manpower and material shortages in the intricate smartphone supply chain, pandemic prevention activities will also throw cold water on demand. TrendForce believes, given China’s short-term economic growth rate, the current forecast for China’s smartphone market shipments will drop from approximately 325 million units last year to 300 million units, representing an annual decline of approximately 7.7%, and a possibility of a continued downturn.
Apple is set to unveil the successors to its current device lineups at this year’s fall product launch on September 14. Please see below for some of TrendForce‘s latest data pertaining to the global consumer electronics market:
Although the tight supply of certain components due to complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic remains Apple’s primary production-related challenge, iPhone production will unlikely be drastically affected. Total iPhone production for 2021 is expected to reach 229.5 million units, a 15.6% YoY increase, with the upcoming iPhone 13 models accounting for about 37%-39% of Apple’s annual iPhone production. In addition, iPhones are also expected to account for about 77% of total annual production of 5G smartphones in 2021, making them the market leader in this segment and representing a drastic increase from 39% in 2020.
Regarding technical specifications, the Pro model of iPhone 13 is expected to include 1TB storage capacity as an optional upgrade. Other improvements over previous models include the adoption of A15 processors manufactured with TSMC’s 5nm+ process technology. All four iPhone 13 models will feature flexible AMOLED + On-cell designs for their display panels, while the Pro series will also feature a 120Hz refresh rate as well as LTPO technology for reduced power consumption. Furthermore, all four models’ primary cameras will be equipped with sensor shift image stabilization. The Pro model, in particular, will have its ultra-wide camera upgraded to a 6P lens, with the addition of autofocus capability as well. Much like the iPhone 12, LiDAR functionality is available only for the Pro model of the iPhone 13 lineup.
In view of the lackluster sales performances of the iPhone 12 mini, which reached EOL ahead of time, the iPhone 13 mini is expected to account for less than 10% of total iPhone 13 production, since Apple will focus its sales efforts on the other three models. TrendForce indicates that the global economy, markets, and personal incomes are all still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also led to price hikes for electronic components and transportation services, thereby compounding Apple’s difficulties in setting retail prices for the new iPhone models. TrendForce expects Apple to continue the aggressive pricing strategy that it adopted for last year’s models in order to attract smartphone buyers, raise its revenue from services via increased handset sales, and make up for the aggressive prices via increased service revenue.
The recent surges of COVID-19 cases in India, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries have adversely affected the global smartphone market in terms of production and demand, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The global smartphone production for 2Q21 fell by 11% QoQ to a total of 307 million units. However, a YoY comparison shows an increase of around 10% for the quarter. The global production for 1H21 came to a total of 652 million units, translating to a growth rate of almost 18% compared with 1H20, when the pandemic was in the initial phase.
While fourth-ranked Apple undergoes a transition period between old and new models, and Samsung experiences a slight dip in market share, smartphone brands have improved their respective product specifications
Samsung’s smartphone production for 2Q21 reached 58.5 million units, which was the highest among all smartphone brands yet represented a 23.5% QoQ decrease. Since India and Vietnam account for the majority of its smartphone production capacity, the severe COVID-19 outbreaks in both countries during 2Q21 had a significant impact on production volume. This year, Samsung will remain as the top smartphone brand by quarterly and annual production. However, it will face increasing difficulty in preserving its steadily shrinking market share in the future. The competition will only intensify as rival brands have become excelled at smartphone design and manufacturing.
OPPO’s smartphone production fell by 6.6% QoQ to 49.5 million units for 2Q21. OPPO’s production figure includes devices from sub-brands Realme and OnePlus. Xiaomi’s smartphone production also came to 49.5 million units for 2Q21, showing a QoQ drop of 2%. Xiaomi’s production figure includes devices from sub-brands Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark. On a YoY basis, OPPO posted a growth rate of 80%, whereas Xiaomi posted a growth rate of almost 70%. The high YoY growth rates were attributed to them capturing some market share abandoned by Huawei and the recovery of China’s smartphone market. Both OPPO and Xiaomi claimed second place in the quarterly ranking. Vivo is another Chinese brand that faces a similar situation. Its smartphone production, which includes devices from sub-brand iQoo, dropped by 8.1% QoQ to 34 million units. Vivo took fifth place in the quarterly ranking. Each of these three Chinese brands has made India its second largest base with respect to production and sales operations. Hence, India’s recent COVID-19 surge affected the production and sales performances of all three brands in 2Q21.
Regarding future plans, all three Chinese brands corrected down their annual production targets at the end of 2Q21 due to the COVID-19 surge in Southeast Asia and the capacity crunch in the foundry market. Lowering the annual production target is going to alleviate the cash flow pressure by preventing the component gaps from widening and the inventory of whole devices from rising. It should be pointed out that OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo have been very proactive in developing innovative products in the high-end segment of the smartphone market. The high-end models from these three brands are not able to completely assume the market positions that have been held by the flagship models under Huawei’s P and Mate series. Nonetheless, all three brands have posted strong results in both the domestic and overseas markets. To capture more market share, Xiaomi and OPPO are leveraging their respective sub-brands Redmi and Realme that both offer high performance for price. TrendForce therefore believes that these two brands will be more or less evenly matched in terms of production through this whole year.
Apple’s iPhone production reached its lowest point for the year, and its rank fell to fourth place in 2Q21 because the second quarter is the transition period between last year’s and this year’s iPhone series. The quarterly total iPhone production fell by 22.2% QoQ to around 42 million units. In the aspect of product development, Apple will be releasing four flagship iPhone models this September. The major upgrades that come with the new series are the improved camera and the next-generation A15 processor that is manufactured with TSMC’s 5nm+ process. Other upgrades relate to the optimization of the existing functions. This year’s iPhone line-up can be regarded as an extension of the iPhone 12 series that was released in 2020. With regards to pricing, Apple will be maintaining its proactive approach so as to gain more market share. On the other hand, there is the possibility that Apple’s device production during 2H21 will be affected by the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia. Due to the severity of the outbreak situation, shipments of ICs from that country have experienced delays.
With an annual production of 9.4 million units for 2021, LG officially terminated its smartphone manufacturing operations in 2Q21
LG signaled that it will be selling or shutting down its mobile phone unit at the start of this year, and then the company announced that it will formally close the mobile phone unit this April. The development of new smartphone models was also suspended. According to the shutdown plan, the production of LG smartphones has ceased since the end of 2Q21. Altogether, LG produced around 9.4 million units this year and is estimated to account for about 1% of the market share. As for LG’s regional markets, the company was focusing on expanding its presence in the respective mid-range segments of the North American and Latin American markets. With LG ceasing its smartphone production, the abandoned market share in North America will be mostly divided among Android phone brands Samsung, Lenovo, and brands owned by local telecom companies. In Latin America, Lenovo and Xiaomi will likely benefit the most from LG’s exit.
Persistent uncertainties in the pandemic’s impact may continue to affect smartphone production in 2H21
Regarding the global smartphone production for the whole 2021, TrendForce has corrected down its estimation from the previous version of 1.36 billion units with a YoY growth rate 8.5% to the current version of 1.345 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 7.3%. Going forward, one of the two main focuses of observation will be on whether the pandemic will cause a further decline in smartphone sales. For instance, while Europe and the US are currently experiencing a resurgence of infections, Southeast Asian countries have also been unable to subdue the most recent outbreaks. In addition, the pandemic continues to pose a risk to the smartphone supply chain. Take Malaysia for example. It accounts for a significant share of the global production capacity for OSAT (i.e., around 15%). With the country now becoming a COVID-19 hotspot, there have been disruptions in the supply of some key semiconductor components. This, in turn, will negatively affect smartphone production during the second half of this year.
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The iPhone 13 series, which is about to be formally announced by Apple, has already had its exterior design speculated on by various media outlets and fans alike. TrendForce’s latest investigations indicate that some of the notable hardware upgrades of the iPhone 13 pertain to the SoC (manufactured at the 5nm+ node, which enables improved performance and decreased power consumption), display, and camera. In addition, iPhone handsets featuring support for 5G mmWave will be available for sale in more countries after the release of iPhone 13.
The iPhone 13 will see a shift in its charging circuit board from the previous rigid-flex PCB design to a new design featuring SiP combined with flexible PCB. The space-saving feature of this new design will also likely result in increased battery capacity. As for retail prices, the iPhone 13 series is expected to remain similar to the iPhone 12 series assuming Apple is able to effectively control manufacturing costs, since the latest models do not come with significant hardware upgrades. As a result of this aggressive pricing scheme, iPhone shipment will likely maintain its growth trajectory for two consecutive years.
Huawei’s plight led to Apple’s rising market share in the Greater China region
Owing to heavy competition from Chinese brands, sales in the Greater China region accounted for a decreasing share of Apple’s iPhone revenue, from 19.44% in 2017 down to merely 16.33% in 2020. Nevertheless, this downtrend has been gradually reversing since 4Q20, primarily because of increased sanctions against Huawei.As Huawei was cut off from its chip supply in 4Q20, shipment of Huawei smartphones underwent a massive decline accordingly, in turn leaving vacancies in the flagship smartphone market in China. At the same time, while Apple released its new iPhone 12 models, flagship smartphone buyers in China began purchasing iPhones instead. Thanks to this shift, sales in the Greater China region began accounting for a growing share of Apple’s iPhone revenue, from 14.8% up to 19.13% in 4Q20. Since 4Q20, this figure has remained above 18% for three consecutive quarters.
Prior to being sanctioned by the US government, Huawei had enjoyed the highest market share in the high-end smartphone segment in China. After the sanctions were put into place, this segment then became highly sought after by other smartphone brands. However, because other Chinese brands had not previously placed significant emphasis on the high-end market, the iPhone was able to seize most of the market share in the high-end segment left in Huawei’s wake. Furthermore, although other Chinese smartphone brands have started developing their respective flagship models, it takes considerable time to build up their brand images in this segment and attract customers. TrendForce therefore believes that the iPhone will continue to dominate the high-end smartphone market in China for the next two to three years.
iPhones are expected to account for 16.7% of global smartphone shipment in 2021
An overview of iPhone shipments for the past few years shows that iPhone shipment went into a nosedive starting in 4Q18 because the iPhone XS/XR series featured limited improvements yet a significant price hike over its iPhone 8/X predecessor. Alarmed by this decline, Apple immediately revamped its sales strategy for the next-gen iPhone 11, which not only underwent a total overhaul in terms of specs but also experienced a price cut of US$50 for the entry-level model (the Pro model retained its previous-gen equivalent’s price). Apple subsequently released the brand-new iPhone SE in 2020, thereby reversing the downward trajectory of iPhone shipment as a result.
New iPhones saw a deferred released schedule in 2020 owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a 14% YoY decrease in iPhone shipment for 3Q20. However, as the new iPhone 12 models equipped with across-the-board hardware upgrades, including 5G functionality, were released in 4Q20, iPhone shipment saw a massive rebound during the quarter and reached a 12% YoY increase in 4Q20 and a further increase of 42% YoY in 1Q21.
Looking ahead to the shipment volumes of the new iPhone models for 2H21, TrendForce expects Apple to maintain its aggressive pricing strategy in order to boost shipment. In addition, as the iPhone 13 series will once again return to a September release, total iPhone shipment is expected to undergo a 30% YoY increase in 3Q21, but a 5% YoY decrease in 4Q21. As such, iPhone sales for 2H21 will likely surpass 2H20 figures. For 2021, iPhones are expected to account for 16.7% of all smartphone shipment, which is a step-up compared to last year.