Smartphone Firms Set to Ship 52 Million Devices in Q3

SmartphoneSmartphone makers are likely to ship in 50-52 million devices in the July-September quarter despite a supply crunch, chipset shortages and logistical challenges, according to market trackers.

Backed by a surge in consumers upgrading their smartphones after a year plus of surviving the pandemic, the quarterly shipment numbers are set to cross the 47-49-million-unit mark in pre-Covid 2019.

“When compared to 2019, we foresee a potential 6-10% growth in shipments. Consumer demand for recently launched premium flagships is high, and OEMs (original equipment makers) are working their way around the supply constraints,” said Prabhu Ram, head of the industry intelligence group at CyberMedia Research.

His firm estimates that the July-September quarter (Q3) will see 50-52 million units shipped, compared with 47.2 million units two years earlier. The number may be less compared with the 54 million units shipped last year, but Ram calls this a “marginal dip in shipments in year-on-year terms”. Last year’s high numbers were also due to a post-lockdown buying splurge.

According to some, the July-September quarter — which historically garners the highest shipments/sales — would have beaten 2020’s record but for the supply chain issues and launch delays of handsets like the JioPhone Next, Reliance Industries’ affordable 4G smartphone being designed along with Google.

Prachir Singh, senior research analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the company had expected 3 million units of Jio Phone Next to hit the markets in September. The market tracking firm pegs handset shipments of around 50 million in the third quarter of 2021 compared with 34 million in the previous three months, 53.1 million units a year earlier and 49 million in Q3, 2019.

Navkendar Singh, research director at market research firm IDC, expects “a marginal uptick this year” from the 47-48 million units shipped in Q3 of 2019 but less than last year’s 53.5 million units.

Market tracking firm Canalys expects 90-95 million shipments between July and December, compared with 85 million units in the same period of 2019.

“Vendors will face challenges from supply crunches and a possible third wave (of the pandemic), which primarily affect aggregate demand, but we believe the impact will be minimal because both consumers and brands have been accustomed to similar market conditions,” said Sanyam Chaurasia of Canalys.

In fact, handset vendors are overcoming these challenges by relaunching handsets with new chipsets and rolling out promotional offers to meet customer demands. This in turn will clear out the inventory and add to the quarterly number sales, say market trackers.

Besides, the Covid-induced economic crisis, a year plus of chipset shortage and import curbs at airports and seaports in China have paralysed the consumer electronics sector. Counterpoint Research expects the year to end with about 190 smartphone launches compared with at least 207 in 2020. There have so far been 103 launches this year.

Uptick in shipment costs has also led to increased handset prices and most of the upgrade sales are expected in the above Rs 10,000 range. Analysts say those who can afford handsets only below that range were the most impacted by the pandemic.


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