Gartner Reports First Ever Global Decline in Smartphone Sales

DooKey

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Gartner has been following the smartphone market since 2004 and in Q4 of 2017 their figures showed a decline of 5.6 percent from Q4 of 2016. This is the first decline in sales they have recorded since they began tracking sales. I'm sure this isn't the beginning of the end for smartphones, however, it does show that what was once a booming market is probably saturated right now and people are just going to hang onto their phones for longer periods of time now. I know I'm in no hurry to upgrade from my iPhone 7 because there isn't any must have feature in newer phones.

Gartner says two main factors led to the Q4 sales drop: A slowing of upgrades from feature phones to smartphones due to a lack of quality “ultra-low-cost” smartphones; and existing smartphone owners selecting quality models and keeping them for longer, lengthening the replacement cycle.
 
The annual upgrade cycle the industry has been pushing was never sustainable.

Exactly, phones have gotten to the point of PCs where constant replacement simply isn't necessary for most folks. And higher end phones are so expensive now that I imagine most folks want to hold onto them for while before upgrading.
 
my cheapo quad core phone is quiet fast enough for me and has a perfectly viewable screen. I see no point in upgrading it anytime soon unless I drop it in a bucket of water again :/
 
Exactly, phones have gotten to the point of PCs where constant replacement simply isn't necessary for most folks. And higher end phones are so expensive now that I imagine most folks want to hold onto them for while before upgrading.
Honestly, the high end phones really haven't been all that bad. Back in the Athlon XP days, I was spending around 2k every 12-18 months on new PC parts. 900 every 24-30 months seems completely reasonable to stay top of line on phones.
 
Honestly, the high end phones really haven't been all that bad. Back in the Athlon XP days, I was spending around 2k every 12-18 months on new PC parts. 900 every 24-30 months seems completely reasonable to stay top of line on phones.
But why at this point? What does these new phones do now that Warrant a new $1000 phone every year or even 3 nowadays? It is why they making phones less and less repairable. Hell a battery swap is to much for the common user nowadays. I got a pixel 2xl recently to replace my busted 6P and I ask myself why did I spend $800 on this shit. The experience is nothing ground shattering over my 6P.
 
i sadly had to get a new phone as my luimia 1520 started having problems other wise I would have kept it for even longer. I hope to use my new phone for another 4+ years if I can.
 
But why at this point? What does these new phones do now that Warrant a new $1000 phone every year or even 3 nowadays? It is why they making phones less and less repairable. Hell a battery swap is to much for the common user nowadays.
I just upgraded my iphone 6 plus to a iphone 8 plus for more storage. 64GB just wasn't enough anymore, and as a side benefit the camera is better, the phone is overall faster, etc
 
It's gotten to the point where it doesn't make sense to pay $800-$1000 to only get a slightly better camera.
I just sent my Sony Xperia Z3 in for a new battery because it was had swollen up. Right now I can't justify spending $800 - $1 000 for a brand new phone because this one is still serving me nicely after, what?, 38 months.

What I've found is that the flagship phones have a much longer useful life for me than midrange phones, mainly because I *HATE* input and UI lag with an absolute passion. Sure, the midrange phones now, three years later, have a better camera than my Z3 - which I would appreciate - but their input lag is just unacceptable for me. I'm not 100% sure why, but the high-end Snapdragons from yesteryear still outperform companies like Mediatek's latest and greatest with sometimes more than double the cores. I'm not sure I guess it's like buying a high-end CPU or GPU, they simply last longer.

i sadly had to get a new phone as my luimia 1520 started having problems other wise I would have kept it for even longer. I hope to use my new phone for another 4+ years if I can.
Did your carrier say that the phone was "beyond economical repair?" What was wrong with it?
 
With phones, the pixel count is hitting a practical max: the phones are about as big as we can stomach and have imperceptibly small pixels.
For processing power and storage, they have plenty for most people, especially since a lot of that is moving to server-side.

So what would drive people to upgrade? Other than things like Apple's "we slow the older phones down" which isn't going to work again?

One upgrade driver might be new connection technology that matters: unlimited satellite internet at a low monthly rate for example.
I might buy a phone that gave me that, other than that's I'll stick with my Galaxy S8 until it dies.
 
Until there is some sort of sea change in tech, this will probably continue. New phones are expensive and offer very little beyond a new camera and the ability to open Facebook 1/8 of a second faster. Well, that and a fresh battery. It's still way cheaper to have those mobile repair shops drop a new battery into an older phone, though. The real problem will be once OEMs start locking older phones out of popular software. They're already bad about OS and security updates, but if they really want people to buy a newer phone they'll start making versions of Facebook and such artificially require newer hardware.
 
VCRs, DVD players, PCs, Printer, Flat screen TVs all followed similar curves. Basic economics. Once everyone that wants one has one or two, demand falls as most folks just want basic functionality and don't really care about 10% better screen contrast or 5% higher pixel count or better color rendering. Lower prices should follow fairly soon.
 
It makes sense.

It's probably just a sign of people being happy with keeping their existing phones longer. This certainly jives with what I am seeing in my own circle of acquaintances.

Early in the smartphone race the capabilities of the SoC's that go into these things were developing rapidly. Phones were financed on two year plans. The first year was usually fairly good, but the second year was a long slog of dealing with obsolescence before you qualified for your next upgrade, and most absolutely leapt at that opportunity.

These days a two year old phone still performs reasonably well, and it shouldn't be a surprise that many try to stretch the use of their devices longer. Heck, I just bought a used 2016 LG G Pad X, and flashed it with LineageOS and it is turning out to be a nice little tablet for things like Waze navigation. Even my old 2013 Nexus 7 was performing well enough for general web and email use, and I'd still be using it if I hadn't dropped it, damaged it and caused problems.

My biggest concern with this development is that while mobile hardware now last longer, active support hasn't expanded. The general public usually doesn't know how to flash LineageOS or another aftermarket ROM if they even have a device with an unlocked bootloader. The end result of this must be that there are a lot of people out there actively using devices that haven't received security updates in some time, and probably have unpatched zero-days...

I mean, people do their banking, check their health records, you name it on their phones. This has to be a large risk. Personally I wouldn't use any Android device which has a "Security Patch Level" older than a month or so. Preferably it should be no older than two weeks, but only LineageOS seems to be able to keep up with that pace..


IMG_20180222_104027-crop.jpg
 
So, yeah, as it stands right now, I have absolutely no reason to upgrade my first gen Pixel despite there being newer phones out there. It doesn't leave me wanting in any way at all.

The question is what will happen once Google support ends though. I don't care about having the latest Android. That doesn't matter at all to me, but having the very latest Android security patch level is of paramount importance to me (and should be to everyone. Only a fool uses an insecure device)

Hopefully by the time Google stops supporting the device there will be a way to put LineageOS on it, so I can continue to get the very latest security patches.
 
I just sent my Sony Xperia Z3 in for a new battery because it was had swollen up. Right now I can't justify spending $800 - $1 000 for a brand new phone because this one is still serving me nicely after, what?, 38 months.

What I've found is that the flagship phones have a much longer useful life for me than midrange phones, mainly because I *HATE* input and UI lag with an absolute passion. Sure, the midrange phones now, three years later, have a better camera than my Z3 - which I would appreciate - but their input lag is just unacceptable for me. I'm not 100% sure why, but the high-end Snapdragons from yesteryear still outperform companies like Mediatek's latest and greatest with sometimes more than double the cores. I'm not sure I guess it's like buying a high-end CPU or GPU, they simply last longer.

Did your carrier say that the phone was "beyond economical repair?" What was wrong with it?

That's how I felt when I upgraded. I had a Xperia Z2 and it worked great. I ended up with a free upgrade. Told them to try to get me a Z5, X, or X Performance, with preference for the X Performance. I ended up with an X. They didn't get the X Performance, since it was in Rose Gold or something and she didn't think I'd want it. I don't care, a case can fix that no problem.

Well the X was laggier and it would stutter on some of my videos. I ended up buying a used Z5 off ebay and it's been great for the past year. Although, with what I do, I don't see any difference between my old Z2 and my current Z5. Maybe a power user or someone else might notice, but I don't.
 
I'd be happy to upgrade my Galaxy S5 as soon as I get one for $1 and two year commitment like the current one.

Now ATT wants an extra $25-40 or so a month to get a new model and those A-holes charge a big fee for the update that costs them almost nothing to do.
 
Yeah, there really is no compelling reason to get a phone every year for most of us. I'm still rocking my V10 and do not need anything else.
 
I'm surprised that the report didn't mention the elimination of the 2 yr contract on phone plans and the built-in discount for phones every 2 yrs. The plans used to build-in the price of the phone and they would give you a discount on the phone every 2 years, so that $700 phone only cost $200 every 2 years. This is one of the reasons why I upgraded every 2 years. The price of your monthly bill didn't change if you kept your old phone for longer, but you just had an old phone without any warranty. Now, when you see a $20+ per month decrease of your phone bill just for keeping your old phone. That is money in your pocket and incentivizes consumers to keep their old phones instead of buying new ones. My 2 year contract ended in August of 2017, and I was part of the last group of people that were still able to get a 2 year contract. I believe all carriers dropped that ability in 2016. I have been expecting sales to decrease eventually because of this. Apparently it has finally happened.
 
Reports of Apple purposefully throttling phones probably caused people to pull back a bit too and realize that the new one isn't really faster if you don't experience how much faster it is
 
Still running my LG G2 here. I might upgrade sometime in the next year but won't be dropping more than $300 on a phone when I do upgrade.
 
Everything is about the "camera". Get rid of the head phone jack.... how's the camera? Get rid of the IR blaster... how's the camera? Get rid of the good stereo speakers... how's the camera?

I'm not looking forward to my next phone, well, except for the camera!!!
 
I can see why, they're not "cool" anymore. Everyone has one. They've become the Harley Davidson of communication.
 
I just upgraded my iphone 6 plus to a iphone 8 plus for more storage. 64GB just wasn't enough anymore, and as a side benefit the camera is better, the phone is overall faster, etc

When I needed more storage I bought a 64GB microsd card and plugged it into my Note 4.
If I need more some day, I'll upgrade to a 128GB card.
Much cheaper solution.
 
Everything is about the "camera". Get rid of the head phone jack.... how's the camera? Get rid of the IR blaster... how's the camera? Get rid of the good stereo speakers... how's the camera?

I'm not looking forward to my next phone, well, except for the camera!!!

Samsung is addressing all that with the S9:

-Headphone jack confirmed
-Stereo speakers (very likely)
-External SD Card
-Awesome Camera (allegedly)
-No IR Blaster though
 
I just sent my Sony Xperia Z3 in for a new b

attery because it was had swollen up. Right now I can't justify spending $800 - $1 000 for a brand new phone because this one is still serving me nicely after, what?, 38 months.

What I've found is that the flagship phones have a much longer useful life for me than midrange phones, mainly because I *HATE* input and UI lag with an absolute passion. Sure, the midrange phones now, three years later, have a better camera than my Z3 - which I would appreciate - but their input lag is just unacceptable for me. I'm not 100% sure why, but the high-end Snapdragons from yesteryear still outperform companies like Mediatek's latest and greatest with sometimes more than double the cores. I'm not sure I guess it's like buying a high-end CPU or GPU, they simply last longer.

Did your carrier say that the phone was "beyond economical repair?" What was wrong with it?

something was wrong with the storage memory in it and i could also no longer use miniSD cards in it. Having an SD card in it would cause things to crash the phone even if they weren't accessing the card. Say like the camera. I could tell it to save to internal memory but phone would crash after a took a photo. Take out SD card it wouldn't. The phone would still crash even after doing a complete wipe and reset during certain things. So something was wrong with it internally. Plus certain email accounts would NO LONGER work with it or any windows phone for that matter. My personal email and my yahoo email stopped working with both my 1520 and my older 640. iphone and android (tried on my wifes iphone and older S5 and the new Sony), no problem they work just fine.

I ended up getting the Xperia XA2 Ultra. I required a 6" screen. I tried the XA1 Ultra but the camera placement in the corner pissed me off something fierce. I couldn't deal with it. Need that center mounted camera. sucks cause a new XA1 was like 200 bucks cheaper than the new XA2

I also just buy phones. no contracts here. Been using Net10 for 3 or so years now without issue. Plus work reimburses me up to 50 bucks for cell service so I don't pay a dime.
 
So, yeah, as it stands right now, I have absolutely no reason to upgrade my first gen Pixel despite there being newer phones out there. It doesn't leave me wanting in any way at all.

The question is what will happen once Google support ends though. I don't care about having the latest Android. That doesn't matter at all to me, but having the very latest Android security patch level is of paramount importance to me (and should be to everyone. Only a fool uses an insecure device)

Hopefully by the time Google stops supporting the device there will be a way to put LineageOS on it, so I can continue to get the very latest security patches.

There are official Lineage OS builds for almost every Nexus device, so I would expect there to be ones for the Pixel phones in time as well. I had Lineage OS on my previous Honor 5X and I put it on my dad's original (2013!) Moto G... I like it a lot.
 
Smartphones cost more than old cars now, think that's where the line crossed.
Yeah but I wouldn't want to have a car that cost less than a phone either... there's a reason why old cars can cost that low, there's definitely something wrong with them. You don't so much own the car as you're leasing it until it requires any sort of repair which almost assuredly will cost more than what you paid for the car.
 
Smartphones cost more than old cars now, think that's where the line crossed.

I respectfully disagree. I think the problem is that year after year the newer features are less interesting and not worth the upgrade. I mean, I still have my Galaxy Note 5 and it still is a fantastic phone that keeps up just fine and has a shit ton of features I don't use. Just saying that every year the jump in smartphone innovations decrease so it makes the need to upgrade every year for enthusiasts and every other year for others less appealing and/or even unnecessary.
 
Smartphones cost more than old cars now, think that's where the line crossed.

I think we've become so used to the power, usefulness and price of smartphones that we're underestimating their actual value...

They are a fuking pocket super computer with access to all the information (internet) known to man anywhere you go, that makes calls and also takes video and pictures.
 
Everyone has one that is good enough. The last several years haven't seen much in actual advancements that matter. I only just a few weeks ago stopped using my galaxy s4 I got in 2013, because it just up and died on me. So I've moved on to my lg g4 that I picked up late 2015 for fre through a verizon promo & lg rebate exploit at the time. Previously I had just used it to take better photos and video, now it's my daily driver. On android 5.1 because that was the last version you could root on the device with its locked bootloader, I hope to get another 2 years out of this phone at least.
 
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