Premium smartphones face Covid-19 effect even when lockdown eases

Sales of smartphones fell 11.7 per cent in record decline in first quarter

Smartphones may be highly fetishised but it seems highly unlikely that many of us will be buying a new one any time soon.

With Covid-19 having first hit manufacturing supply chains in China early this year and then sapping consumer confidence as the coronavirus spread westward, there aren’t going to be many people willing to splash out the €1,000-plus required for the latest and greatest mobile.

Apple conceded as much this week when it pulled guidance for its third quarter due to the pandemic. While it faces fewer sales across its product suite, it will likely be iPhones that are most affected.

Second-quarter iPhone revenues slid by 7 per cent to $28.96 billion (€26.2 billion) and the expectation is among analysts that sales will continue to plummet.


Apple certainly isn’t alone in this. In fact, if anything it is performing relatively well compared with its peers.

Overall, smartphone sales fell by 11.7 per cent during the first quarter, the largest annual decline ever recorded.

New figures published by research company IDC shows 275.8 million smartphones were shipped during the first three months of the year.

According to IDC's data, Samsung regained its top position among smartphone makers with 58.3 million units shipped, down 18.9 per cent on the same quarter a year earlier.

Huawei remains in second place with a 17.9 per cent share, despite shipments falling by 17.1 per cent to 49 million units.

Apple, meanwhile, shipped 36.7 million phones during the three months, down just 0.4 per cent year on year. It has a 13.3 per cent market share.

The recent launch of Apple’s cheaper SE model may help it weather the storm and its failure to introduce a 5G handset suddenly doesn’t seem as important as it was.

However, the reality is that even as countries emerge from lockdown and something approaching normality returns, few consumers are going to have the cash to splash on smartphones unless they have to. Even then, it will likely be lower-priced ones that suddenly become desirable.