THE advent of the fifth generation of mobile networks (5G) is projected, from next year, to curb the decline in global sales of smartphones.
The projections come amid worldwide shipments of smartphones predicted to suffer their worst decline to date, a decline of 3,2 percent in 2019.
This is according to the world's leading research and advisory company, which predicts that in total, worldwide shipments of devices including computers, tablets and mobile phones, will decline 3,7 percent in 2019.
However, as a result of the impact of fifth generation of mobile networks (5G), the smartphone market is expected to return to growth at 2,9 percent in 2020.
Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner, explained the ongoing decline.
"This is due to consumers holding onto their phones longer, given the limited attraction of new technology," he enlightened.
Gartner estimates there are more than 5 billion mobile phones used around the world but after years of growth, the worldwide smartphone market has reached a "tipping point."
Atwal said consumers had reached a threshold for new technology and applications.
"Unless the devices provide significant new utility, efficiency or experiences, users do not necessarily want to upgrade their phones," he said.
The lifetimes of premium phones such Android and iOS products continue to extend through 2019, Gartner explained, adding their quality and technology features had improved significantly.
It has reached a level where users saw high value in their device beyond a two-year time frame.
Conversely, the share of 5G-capable phones will increase from 10 percent in 2020 to 56 percent by 2023, according to Gartner.
Atwal said the major players in the mobile phone market would look for 5G connectivity technology to boost replacements of existing 4G phones.
"Still, less than half of communications service providers globally will have launched a commercial 5G network in the next five years," he added.
The research executive noted more than a dozen service providers had launched commercial 5G services in a handful of markets so far.
To ensure smartphone sales recover, mobile providers are starting to emphasize 5G performance features, like faster speeds, improved network availability and enhanced security, he said.
"As soon as providers better align their early performance claims for 5G with concrete plans, we expect to see 5G phones account for more than half of phone sales in 2023," Atwal projected.
The recent Gartner Internet of Things (IoT) forecast showed that 5G endpoint installed base would grow 14-fold between 2020 and 2023, from 3.5 million units to 48.6 million units.
By 2028, the installed base would reach 324,1 million units, although 5G will make up only 2,1 percent of the overall IoT endpoints.