Smartphone shipments dip to lowest seen in a decade, 17-percent decline from 2021

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,776   +1,202
Staff member
In brief: High inflation and a foreboding economic forecast for 2023 had consumers shifting spending away from luxury items such as high-end smartphones to more necessary purchases like gas and food in 2022. While giants like Apple and Samsung picked up a few points in market share, the overall industry saw declines in the fourth quarter not seen in 10 years.

Smartphone vendors are licking their wounds after an all-around lousy year in sales. Analysts at Canalys estimate worldwide shipments for Q4 2022 dipped 17 percent compared to 2021. Full-year sales were down to less than 1.2 billion, a decline of 11 percent year-over-year. It's the worst performance the industry has seen in a decade.

Apple and Samsung faired slightly better than the rest, with the Cupertino powerhouse wresting away 25 percent of the market over the Korean OEM's 20 percent — both gains in the industry. Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo all took a hit, falling to 11, 10, and 8 percent market share, respectively. Apple's recent release of the iPhone 14 line contributed to it stealing Samsung's thunder, at least until the Galaxy S23's upcoming release.

That said, all vendors have had a rough year regardless of the gains made in market share. The economy is teetering on the brink of a recession, and the tech sector, in particular, has seen a significant contraction, as Canalys Research Analyst Runar Bjørhovde points out.

"Smartphone vendors have struggled in a difficult macroeconomic environment throughout 2022. Q4 marks the worst annual and Q4 performance in a decade. The channel is highly cautious with taking on new inventory, contributing to low shipments in Q4."

Manufacturers were able to reduce inventory on high-end inventories through the holiday season, but overall, "Q4 2022 stands in stark contrast to Q4 2021's" high demand and ebbing supply constraints. Even low- to mid-range demand fell sharply in the first three quarters. Folks in 2022 were more concerned with paying their rising bills rather than upgrading to the latest and greatest.

Canalys expects OEMs to protect their market share throughout 2023, prioritizing profitability and cutting costs. At best, it predicts marginal growth in the sector, with the possibility of sales remaining flat in the new year.

"Though inflationary pressures will gradually ease, the effects of interest rate hikes, economic slowdowns, and an increasingly struggling labor market will limit the market's potential," said Research Analyst Le Xuan Chiew. "This will adversely affect saturated, mid-to-high-end-dominated markets, such as Western Europe and North America."

Chiew adds that Southeast Asia is the only region expected to see significant positive growth, but this won't come until the second half of 2023.

Image credit: Trusted Reviews

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Posts: 5,103   +6,682
Maybe if they start adding things, like headphone jacks, instead of removing them as "features" they might increase the amount of people willing to upgrade. IDK, Give me a high end phone with a headphone jack and SD card slot and I'd happily upgrade.


Posts: 224   +318
Is this really such a surprise? Phone manufacturers in general and especially Apple expect everyone to keep buying a new thousand dollar phone every year. How long did they think this would go on? My phone is almost 5 years old now and works perfectly fine. So I have no plans of buying a new one anytime soon.

If you look up the number of smartphones sold worldwide each year the numbers you will see are staggering. Every year for the past 8 years they sold over a BILLION phones a year, some years going as high as 1.5 billion phones sold. Over the last 5 years they have sold literally more phones than there are people on the planet. Samsung, Apple and the rest expect this insanity to continue forever? Where do all those discarded phones go? I would love to see the pile of trash created from all those tossed out phones.

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,776   +1,202
Staff member
I think most people are well beyond the point of "oh, I need the latest [insert phone here]." It was kind of a trend in the smartphone early days and went on longer than I thought it would. But most people have grown out of it IMO. Now it's more like upgrading your PC. You either buy older hardware within your budget every year, or you buy the latest and keep it for 5 years before upgrading again. I just upgraded to an iPhone 14, but I had an iPhone X before that. And the fact of the matter is I would not have even upgraded were it not that I dropped the damn thing and shattered the screen.


Posts: 4,684   +7,130
Maybe if they start adding things, like headphone jacks, instead of removing them as "features" they might increase the amount of people willing to upgrade. IDK, Give me a high end phone with a headphone jack and SD card slot and I'd happily upgrade.

Throw in a physical keyboard too so I can actually use a flagship device again.


Posts: 4,765   +2,739
With all the talk about security updates lately, has anyone else noticed requirements of a banking app in the Play Store can be Android 7.0 for example? Weird huh?


Posts: 61   +84
Bottom line for me is this, it's a hassle to buy a new phone these days. For the latest model it's a grand straight out for something that should cost no more than 300 dollars, considering the fact that these devices are huge generators of ad and data collection revenue. You can lease/finance the phone, but geez its just a phone. You're carrying around a $1,000 fragile, slippery phone that's prone to being dropped unless you put a clunky case on it and pay for insurance. It's a rip off.


Posts: 787   +671
I don't know what is so special about every passing generation of mobile phones though. In my opinion, phones have become so powerful that every new generation don't seem to add a lot to user experience anymore. Sure you get better cameras, brighter and better screens, faster SOC, etc, but can most people really figure out the difference in their day to day usage? Unlikely. If so, with the rising prices of new electronics, there is even lesser reason to upgrade frequently. The technology has essentially passed its high point and declining. In addition, with cost of living increasing drastically, not many will prioritize phones over their basic necessities.


Posts: 1,301   +348
Southeast Asia is the only region expected to see significant positive growth, but this won't come until the second half of 2023.

cellphone markets here in Indonesia is still piping hot. so much so that many manufacturers came up with sub-sub brands. BBK group have Realme, but Realme has Narzo sub brand which is even cheaper (minus charger, online sales only, etc). Transsion has Infinix, Xiaomi has Poco, again BBK has Vivo and Vivo has Iqoo, etc. they literally cover all the bases from $79, $89, $99, $109 and so on until $250 dollars.

Samsung tried to do similar things by introducing cheaper and online-only "M" series phone but they got obliterated by these sub brands. others like Sony, Motorola and Google don't even think about setting foot here.

worth mentioning phones here are sold without contract, probably means more profit for the manufacturers.


Posts: 3,457   +3,166
Good! Maybe they will start dropping the insane prices! A candybar phone updated every year?
Why? Oh! It has a faster processor, brighter screen/refresh rate, more megapixels for the camera.
99.9% of the consumers will never get near maxing out the specs on a smartphone.
I guess there now will be a HUGE push by the industry for folding phones, in hopes of bringing up
the sales of phones.
NOT ME! 1500-2000+ for one of those? Forget it!