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5G to boost smartphone sales in 2020

More consumers are expected to upgrade to the latest gadgets this year, driven by interest in new 5G smartphones.

Worldwide shipments of devices — including PCs and tablets as well as mobile phones — will total 2.16 billion units in 2020, research and advisory firm Gartner predicts. That’s an increase of 0.9% from 2019, when global shipments of devices totalled 2.15 billion units.

Global sales of mobile phones are expected to rise by 1.7% this year following a 2% decline in 2019 when many consumers opted to keep devices they already owned rather than splash out on the latest gadgets.

“2020 will witness a slight market recovery,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “Increased availability of 5G handsets will boost mobile phone replacements, which will lead global device shipments to return to growth in 2020.”

Gartner estimates that 5G models will account for 12% of mobile phone shipments in 2020, rising to 43% by 2022 as 5G service coverage expands and compatible phones become cheaper.

“The market will experience a further increase in 2023, when 5G handsets will account for over 50% of the mobile phones shipped,” Atwal said.

The future looks less bright for PC sales, however: after returning to growth in 2019 as consumers and businesses upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 devices, sales of PCs are expected to decline in 2020 and beyond.

Microsoft withdrew support for Windows 7 on 14 January 2020 and Gartner estimates that one billion PCs will have migrated to Windows 10 through 2020 — around 80% of all PCs in use.

“The PC market’s future is unpredictable because there will not be a Windows 11. Instead, Windows 10 will be upgraded systematically through regular updates,” Atwal noted. “As a result, peaks in PC hardware upgrade cycles driven by an entire Windows OS upgrade will end.”

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