The narrative as far as smartphone sales over the past couple of years is that things are slowing down, with demand for more expensive flagship devices in particular and overall economic conditions resulting in people holding onto their devices for longer.

Supporting that narrative is the latest report from research firm Gartner, which saw a decline in smartphone sales of 0.4 percent during the third quarter of 2019 compared to the previous year.

While that does seem like a small margin, Gartner believes it points to a growing trend among consumers to purchase a better value for money device.

For the majority of smartphone users, desire has shifted away from owning the least expensive smartphone. Today’s smartphone user is opting for midtier smartphones over premium-tier ones because they offer better value for money,” says Anshul Gupta, senior research director at the firm.

In addition, while waiting for 5G network coverage to increase to more countries, smartphone users are delaying their purchase decisions until 2020,’ he continues.

The Gartner research director also points to manufacturers such as Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo focusing more on the mid-range space as things slow down on the flagship end of the spectrum. It’s a strategy that help those companies sustain relatively small loses, as opposed to Apple which suffered a double-digit decline in sales of 10.7 percent.

Although Apple continued its sales promotions and discounts in various markets, this was not enough to stimulate demand globally. In the Greater China market sales of iPhones continued to improve, however, it follows a double-digit decline recorded at the beginning of the year. The iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max saw good initial adoption, which suggests that sales may be positive in the remaining quarter,” adds Gupta.

The result does not change-up the recent positions among vendors however, with Samsung, Huawei and Apple sitting in first, second and third place respectively, which has been the case for the past few quarters now.

Things for the smartphone sector could pick up though for the fourth quarter, with sales from events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the festive season potentially propelling consumer demand, according to Gartner.

The decline in sales will also force some companies to innovate further in the fields of AI, in Gupta’s view. “To deliver relevant personalised experiences, manufacturers will need to improve the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in smartphones and make security capabilities and privacy key aspects of their brands,” he says.

Either way it looks like smartphone manufacturers will need to try new technologies and strategies in order to stoke the desire to buy from consumers.

[Image – Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash]
When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.