IDC has downgraded its forecast for the global smartphone market in 2018, due mainly to continued weak sales in China. In February, the market researcher said it expected the market to recover to low single-digit growth this year, after a 0.3 percent fall in 2017, the first drop ever in the smartphone market, according Telecompaper. However, its latest forecast predicts unit shipments will contract again in 2018, down an estimated 0.2 percent to 1.462 billion units. Growth should return in 2019, at around 3 percent, and continue at a CAGR of 2.5 percent to reach 1.654 billion units in 2022. 
The Chinese market, which consumes around 30 percent of the world's smartphones, is expected to decline another 7.1 percent this year, after a 5 percent fall in 2017, before flattening out in 2019. This will be offset somewhat by expected double-digit growth in India, at an estimated 14 percent in 2018 and 16 percent in 2019. As a result, Chinese OEMs are expected to continue their shift towards the Indian market, where they can sell large volumes of low-end devices. 
Outside of Asia Pacific, the biggest regions for growth will be the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, IDC said. All three regions have relatively low penetration rates and "plenty of upsides". Economic challenges have been the main inhibitor over the past two years, but IDC expects consumer spending to rise throughout the forecast, supporting smartphone sales. 
ASP rising steadily
The contraction in volumes this year will be offset somewhat by continued price increases. IDC predicts the average selling price of a smartphone will reach USD 345, up 10.3 percent from 2017. Premium devices featuring large Amoled, bezel-less displays, advanced camera functions, and an overall increase in speed and performance will be the driving factor in the ASP increase. This is expected to continue throughout the forecast period, at an estimated CAGR of 2.9 percent to an ASP of USD 362 in 2022.
The launch of 5G smartphones is not expected to come until the second half of 2019, with a ramp up across most regions in 2020. IDC projects 5G smartphone volumes to account for roughly 7 percent of the market in 2020 or 212 million units in total. The share of 5G devices should grow to 18 percent of total volumes by 2022.