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4G smartphone shipments to surpass 1bn in 2016

Worldwide smartphone shipments will reach 1.45 billion this year, 1.17 billion of which will be 4G-enabled devices, predicts IDC.

Worldwide smartphone shipments will reach 1.45 billion this year, 1.17 billion of which will be 4G-enabled devices, predicts IDC.

Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.45 billion units, with a year-over-year growth rate of 0.6%, in 2016.

This is according to the latest report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, which reveals although smartphone shipment growth remains positive; it is down significantly from the 10.4% growth in 2015.

However, IDC predicts 4G smartphones are still expected to show double-digit uptake at 21.3% year-over-year growth globally for 2016, reaching 1.17 billion units, up from 967 million in 2015. Much of this growth is coming from emerging markets such as Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa, where only 61% of 2015 smartphone shipments were 4G-enabled, compared to IDC's 2016 projection of 77%.

"It's been a long slog for 4G uptake in many emerging markets as 4G data tariffs have long been very expensive compared to 3G, while 4G handsets themselves have also been relatively pricey across the board," said Melissa Chau, associate research director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "We are quickly seeing this change in key growth markets like India where new operator Reliance Jio is aggressively trying to shake up the market by handing out free 4G SIM cards and launching own-branded low-cost 4G-enabled smartphones."

Global market research firm TrendForce has lowered the projected annual growth rate of smartphone production worldwide for 2016 to 2.5%. Though shipments from Chinese smartphone brands have been fairly strong, other international brands have suffered significant shipment declines, thus constraining the growth in the overall production.

"Looking ahead to 2017, global smartphone production volume is forecast to reach nearly 1.4 billion units, an increase of around 4.5% compared with the prior year. Double-digit growth that took place in the past years will not return as the smartphone market faces challenges in terms of developing new and innovative applications for devices," says Trendforce.

Meanwhile, a Juniper Research report forecasts a rapid uptake of 4G LTE mobile technology in the next five years, with active connections crossing the 1 billion mark in 2017 and reaching 1.8 billion by 2019.

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