smartphone


2021-05-10

Growth in Total Smartphone Production for 2021 Drops to 8.5% YoY Due to India’s Second Wave of Coronavirus, Says TrendForce

TrendForce’s investigations find that India has become the second largest market for smartphones since 2019. However, the recent worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country has severely impaired India’s domestic economy and subsequently dampened various smartphone brands’ production volume and sales (sell-in) performances there. TrendForce is therefore revising the forecasted YoY growth in global smartphone production for 2021 from 9.4% down to 8.5%, with a yearly production volume of 1.36 billion units and potential for further decreases going forward.

TrendForce further indicates that the top five smartphone brands (Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo) have either set up assembly plants in India or sought assistance from EMS providers with operations in the country. Hence, the share of made-in-India smartphones has been on the rise over the years, even though the majority of the domestically manufactured devices are still for meeting the demand of the home market. Judging from the current state of Indian smartphone manufacturing, TrendForce expects the second wave to reduce the country’s smartphone production volume for 2Q21 and 3Q21 by a total of 12 million units, in turn resulting in a 7.5% YoY decrease in smartphone production in India for the whole year.

In India, the second wave of COVID-19 has heavily impacted the middle and upper classes and weakened the sales of smartphones in 2Q21

India’s demographic dividend has generated an enormous demand in the domestic smartphone market. As well, the Indian government has been actively promoting domestic electronics manufacturing so as to boost the economy and create new job opportunities. On one hand, the Indian government has instituted a more restrictive tariff policy to force the localization of the supply chain. On the other hand, it is offering incentives to international smartphone brands so that they will expand the share of local device production. According to local news, people from the more affluent middle and upper classes are being hit the hardest by the second wave. This development will directly impact the country’s smartphone market in 2Q21 by weakening domestic consumer demand and in turn causing a drop in the ASP of smartphones. Smartphone brands are therefore expected to closely monitor their inventories of whole devices and adjust their subsequent production plans accordingly.

The top four smartphone brands in India, which are Xiaomi, OPPO, Samsung, and Vivo, with respective market shares of 25%, 23%, 22%, and 16%, collectively account for about 86% of the country’s total sales. As these brands primarily focus on the US$100-$250 product segment, the worsening pandemic has had an impact on all of them. With regards to manufacturing operations, most factories are reportedly operating normally without being disrupted by the pandemic. However, the accelerated spread of the coronavirus may adversely affect the lower and middle classes, who comprise the vast majority of the labor force. Should the health crisis in India remain unaddressed, TrendForce believes that the country’s import/export operations may come to a standstill as a result, and transportation of key smartphone components may also be disrupted.

On the whole, if the pandemic were to remain uncontained in India throughout 2Q21, then the country’s economic outlook for 2H21 would likely be less than optimistic, and there would be a further reduction in global smartphone production for the year. If these developments were to take place, then TrendForce proposes a “bear case scenario” in which the global smartphone production for the year increases by less than 8% YoY.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-04-28

Smartphone Camera Module Shipment for 2021 Projected to Exceed 5 Billion Units as Competition Over Camera Specs Intensifies, Says TrendForce

In response to consumers’ growing emphasis on camera performance as a major selling point of smartphones, smartphone brands have successively released multi-camera handsets to target this rising demand and seize market shares, in turn driving up the annual shipment volume of smartphone camera modules, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Case in point, despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the smartphone market in 2020, total smartphone camera module shipment still underwent a 3% growth YoY due to the increasing number of camera modules featured per handset as a result of smartphone brands’ competition over camera hardware. Given that the upward trajectory of smartphone camera module shipment will likely persist this year, TrendForce therefore forecasts an annual shipment volume of 5.07 billion units for 2021, an 11% growth YoY.

In addition to increasing the number of camera modules per handset, smartphone brands have also been raising the specifications of their smartphone cameras. First, with regards to the primary camera, certain Android phones will feature up to 64MP camera modules, which will surpass a 20% penetration rate in 2021 (making this particular pixel count spec the fastest-growing among all primary camera specifications), whereas the latest iPhones will likely continue to feature a 12MP primary camera, since Apple is mainly focused on the overall image quality of photos as opposed to megapixel count. Second, with regards to CMOS image sensors, certain smartphone brands, such as Apple, Huawei, and Xiaomi, are expected to increase their smartphone cameras’ sensor sizes to one inch in order to improve these cameras’ performances in low-light or night settings.

Third, with regards to ultrawide cameras, Apple will look to strengthen the autofocus performance of its flagship iPhone models by equipping the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max with VCMs (voice coil motors), which are devices that drive autofocus systems. On the other hand, Huawei and OPPO will incorporate FreeForm Lens technology to address the distortion effect commonly found towards the edges of photos taken with ultrawide cameras.

Finally, with regards to periscope cameras, their widespread adoption by Android smartphone brands in 2020 resulted in a massive 429% growth YoY. Compared to the telephoto cameras found in iPhones, which offer 2.5x optical zoom, periscope cameras are capable of 5x optical zoom at the bare minimum, which delivers much higher image clarity in long-range photography situations. However, the forecasted decline in smartphone shipment of Huawei and Honor, which are the most aggressive in the industry in terms of periscope camera adoption, will in turn negatively affect total periscope camera module shipment for 2021 as well. TrendForce believes that a return to massive growth will not take place unless periscope camera modules capable of continuous autofocus are successfully mass produced, and smartphone brands are willing to adopt such modules for their handsets.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-04-28

LG Set to Exit from Smartphone Business Following Years of Losses, with Lower than 1% Market Share Projected for 2021, Says TrendForce

TrendForce’s investigations finds that LG manufactured merely 30.6 million smartphones last year, which represented a 2.4% market share. The Korean company took ninth place in the global ranking of smartphone brands by production volume in 2020. At the start of this year, LG began to consider either selling or shuttering its mobile phone unit.

Around that same time, it also suspended the R&D of new smartphone models. On April 5, LG announced the decision to fold up the mobile phone unit as it was ultimately unable to offset consecutive years of financial losses it suffered in the smartphone market. Based on the company’s current plan, the mobile phone unit will wind down its operation by the end of July, while its smartphone manufacturing operations will cease by the end of 2Q21.

TrendForce therefore expects LG to occupy a lower than 1% share in the smartphone market this year. Incidentally, the conditions for survival for smartphone brands have further deteriorated on account of the increasingly fierce market competition as well as the recent and continuing hike in component prices. Taken altogether, these developments will reinforce the trend of the dominant brands having more and more market share in the future at the expense of the smaller brands.

Regarding LG’s performance in the smartphone market during the recent years, the company spared no effort in high-end R&D, with such results as the LG Wing with a rotating screen and the LG Rollable, which, as the name suggests, features a side-rolling display. The latter model remained a concept and did not enter mass production.

Despite its efforts, LG however continued to lag behind in sales when compared with the other major brands, such as Samsung and Apple. LG had a relatively weak position in the high-end segment of the smartphone market. As for the mid-range and entry-level segments, LG could not match Chinese brands in terms of pricing. To optimize its cost structure, LG expanded the share of device production going to ODMs. Nevertheless, this action was too late to turn things around.

Samsung, Lenovo, and Xiaomi are likely to benefit from LG’s exit from the North and Latin American markets

LG’s smartphone business has become unprofitable since 2Q15; and its financial losses were further exacerbated after it made a gradual exit from the Chinese market in 2016. As of 4Q20, LG’s smartphone business suffered 23 consecutive quarters of financial losses, which totaled about 5 trillion KRW. Despite LG’s limited market share, however, its exit from the various regional smartphone markets will still benefit its competitors in those markets, in particular, the mid-range segment in North America and Latin America.

With regards to North America, LG’s market share there will be split among its Android-based competitors, including Samsung, Lenovo (Motorola), and other in-house, private brands owned by domestic telecom operators. With regards to Latin America, on the other hand, LG’s exit will more noticeably benefit Lenovo (Motorola) and Xiaomi.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, as vaccinations begin to take place around the world, TrendForce expects the smartphone industry, which fulfills a basic living necessity, to make a gradual recovery as well. Thanks to the general public’s cyclical replacement demand, as well as growing demand from emerging markets, total smartphone production remains unaffected by LG’s exit. As a result, TrendForce maintains its smartphone production forecast of 1.36 billion units for 2021, a 9% increase YoY.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-03-16

PC DRAM Contract Prices Projected to Undergo Remarkable 13-18% Increase QoQ in 2Q21 Owing to High Demand from End Products and Data Centers, Says TrendForce

At the moment, the DRAM market has formally entered a new cycle of rising prices, and 2Q21 will see larger QoQ price increases compared with 1Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Looking ahead to 2Q21, shipments of various end products are expected to remain fairly strong. At the same time, clients in the data center segment will resume large-scale procurement. Hence, DRAM buyers across different application segments will be under pressure to stockpile. After experiencing QoQ increases of 3-8% for 1Q21, the average contract prices of different kinds of DRAM products are forecasted to rise more significantly by 13-18% QoQ for 2Q21.

PC DRAM contract prices are projected to rise by 13-18% QoQ due to urgent demand from notebook manufacturers driven by bullish notebook market

Notebook computer production on the whole will maintain a fairly healthy momentum in 2Q21. The demand for PC DRAM products therefore continues to grow as PC OEMs have been raising their annual production targets. Since buyers of PC DRAM products are now carrying a relatively low level of inventory (i.e., around 4-5 weeks) and anticipating that DRAM prices will keep rising in the foreseeable future, they have been further ramping up their DRAM procurement activities. With regards to supply, the three dominant DRAM suppliers retain a conservative approach for raising bit output. The production capacity share of PC DRAM could experience a squeeze in the future because of robust demand in other application segments. For instance, some smartphone brands continue to vigorously stock up on memory components. Also, the demand for server DRAM products are expected to warm up rapidly in 2Q21. All in all, contract prices of PC DRAM products will register significant QoQ increases of 13-18% for 2Q21.

Server DRAM prices are projected to rise by nearly 20% QoQ due to cyclical upturn in server shipments

With regards to the demand for server DRAM, the second quarter is traditionally the peak season for server shipments while also being a fairly busy period within the year for the procurement of other kinds of DRAM products. Hence, the situation of different sources of demand competing for DRAM suppliers’ production capacity becomes more evident in this period. TrendForce expects server DRAM buyers to be more aggressive in inventory building during 2Q21 and begin to raise the procurement quantity on a monthly basis. This, in turn, will sustain the uptrend in server DRAM prices. With regards to supply, the server DRAM production capacities of the three dominant suppliers will still not return to the level that existed in the middle of 2020, although these suppliers will slightly increase the share of server DRAM in their overall DRAM production capacities in 2Q21. In addition to the peak-season effect, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence server manufacturers as well. Server manufacturers have intentionally extended their component inventories by several more weeks because of the pandemic-induced uncertainties. TrendForce is therefore not discounting the possibility of server DRAM contract prices registering a QoQ increase as large as around 20% for 2Q21.

Mobile DRAM contract prices are projected to remain bullish due to smartphone brands’ expanded procurement activities in advance of market risks

With regards to mobile DRAM demand, smartphone brands will not relax their inventory-building efforts in 2Q21 as the production capacity crunch in the foundry market has made them more vigilant in maintaining a stable component supply. The quarterly total smartphone production volume for 2Q21 is forecasted to exceed 300 million units. Although the three dominant DRAM suppliers have yet to adjust their product mixes for 2Q21, they will probably have to later on because the ASPs of server DRAM and other kinds of DRAM products are rising faster than the ASP of mobile DRAM. Hence, the production capacity share of mobile DRAM could be scaled back so that the production capacity share of server DRAM could grow. Additionally, the behavior of mobile DRAM buyers has been influenced by the cyclical upturn in prices and the anxiety over a tightening of supply in the future. They will continue to procure in large quantities so as to avoid the risks of a supply shortage and larger price hikes. This means that mobile DRAM prices will be on the uptrend as buyers stock up in advance.

Graphics DRAM contract prices are projected to rise by 10-15% QoQ due to high demand for graphics cards from cryptocurrency miners

With regards to demand, the three growth pillars of the graphics DRAM market are graphics cards, game consoles, and cryptocurrencies. At the same time, the mining of various cryptocurrencies has become a lucrative activity. Besides graphics cards that represent the more conventional mining technologies, miners are buying notebooks for this purpose as well. Sensing opportunities, Nvidia has launched CMP (cryptocurrency mining processor) cards and thereby taken up more of DRAM suppliers’ resources. This, in turn, has led to small- and medium-sized OEMs and ODMs experiencing a widening supply gap for graphics DRAM. With regards to supply, the three dominant DRAM suppliers have all reassigned their production capacity for graphics DRAM from GDDR5 to GDDR6, resulting in an increasingly lopsided discrepancy between the two products’ bit supplies, so there is no effective resolution to the ongoing shortage of GDDR5 products. As for GDDR6, demand remains strong as cryptocurrency mining is keeping the demand for graphics cards at a high level, although Nvidia is hogging much of the existing production capacity for graphics DRAM. Looking ahead to 2Q21, the supply situation will still be very strained unless the values of the mainstream cryptocurrencies undergo a drastic change. TrendForce forecasts that contract prices of graphics DRAM will rise by about 10-15% QoQ during this period.

Consumer DRAM contract prices are projected to rise by up to 20% QoQ due to intensifying shortage

With regards to consumer DRAM demand, the demand for TVs, set-top boxes, and networking devices remains strong due to the prevailing stay-at-home economy. Additionally, the build-out of 5G infrastructure and the rapid migration to Wi-Fi 6 contribute to the brisk demand for low-density consumer DRAM products. The supply gap in consumer DRAM market is already significant at this moment and will likely widen in 2Q21. With regards to supply, the overall production capacity for DDR3 products is gradually shrinking. The three dominant suppliers are migrating to the more advanced processes such as the 1Z-nm and 1-alpha nm while reassigning the wafer production capacity of the older processes such as the 20nm and 25nm to CMOS image sensors. Also, Taiwan-based suppliers have allocated some wafer production capacity to products with higher margins (e.g., logic ICs and Flash memory). As a result, the consumer DRAM market is in a rare situation of experiencing a supply shortage and a demand rebound at the same time. There is a strong likelihood that prices of some consumer DRAM chips will register a QoQ increase of almost 20% for 2Q21 contracts, and there is room for further hikes following quarterly contract negotiations.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-03-16

AMOLED Models to Reach 39% Penetration Rate in Smartphone Market in 2021 Owing to Competitive Prices for Mid-Range Segment, Says TrendForce

Among the various display technologies used for smartphones in 2021, AMOLED models are expected to account for a 39% penetration, thanks to smartphone brands’ increasing adoption of this technology, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In the entry-level and mid-range segments, the smartphone demand for a-Si LCD models remains strong, although this technology’s penetration rate is expected to undergo a slight decrease to 28%. On the other hand, LTPS LCD models are continuing to lose market share to competing technologies, resulting in a 33% penetration rate, while LTPS HD LCD models will occupy a growing share of this segment.

TrendForce indicates that smartphone brands’ procurement activities for components in 2H20 will persist throughout 2021 for two reasons: First, the industry on the whole expects demand for smartphones to ramp up considerably this year. Second, production capacities across the entire semiconductor supply chain have been tight, with some segments even showing severe shortage, thus prompting downstream clients such as smartphone brands to stock up on certain components in order to mitigate the potential risk associated with component shortages.

With regards to the development of smartphone display technologies, panel suppliers have been regaining client orders for rigid AMOLED panels through aggressive pricing since 2H20. Owing to increased adoption by smartphone brands this year, rigid AMOLED models are expected to maintain a strong market presence in the mid-range and premium mid-range segments. Flexible AMOLED models, on the other hand, will likely dominate the high-end and flagship segments. Going forward, AMOLED models will gradually cannibalize the market shares of LTPS LCD models in the mid-range and premium mid-range segments, in turn forcing LTPS LCD models into a lower price segment.

Market demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphones, especially for HD models, has remained strong since 2020, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the supply of key components in these smartphones (including a-Si LCD panels as well as DDI and TDDI ICs) has been in shortage in light of the foundry industry’s tight production capacities. As prices of a-Si LCD panels and ICs spiked, panel suppliers saw this upturn as the perfect opportunity to fulfill the existing demand for a-Si products with LTPS products and in turn expend their production capacity for LTPD LCD panels. Smartphone brands began adopting a-Si HD and LTPS HD LCD panels interchangeably in an increasing number of models, thus giving TDDI ICs flexibility to be used in a greater number of compatible handsets.

At the moment, IC supply remains the greatest bottleneck in the overall smartphone supply chain; case in point, TDDI supply is tight to the point of shortage. TrendForce believes that two key factors will exert significant influence over the smartphone panel industry going forward: First, Chinese IC design companies are likely to obtain wafer input priorities in Chinese foundries thanks to government policies. These IC design companies may potentially experience considerable growth as a result and disrupt the predominant oligopoly of Taiwanese IC design companies in the smartphone panel market. Second, once the ongoing capacity expansion effort of Chinese foundries concludes, their additional production capacities will alleviate the current shortage of IC supplies, with IC prices subsequently entering a downward trajectory. As a result of lowered IC prices, the relationship between LTPS HD panels and a-Si HD panels will likely shift from complementary to competitive, with both product categories struggling for dominance in the HD smartphone model segment.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at vivieliu@trendforce.com

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