Phone Shipments to Drop in 2022, Analysts Predict

China's COVID lockdowns are causing a production bottleneck and contributing to reduced demand, according to IDC.

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Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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front and back of Apple iPhone SE and Google Pixel 6A

Fewer phones will be shipped in 2022, multiple analysts now say.


Another analyst firm has predicted phone shipments will drop this year, with IDC forecasting 3.5% fewer phone shipments in 2022 down to 1.31 billion units. The report, published Wednesday, attributes reduced demand for phones to inflation as well as China's COVID-19 lockdowns.

The lockdowns are creating a bottleneck for the production of smartphones, in addition to reducing demand in the Chinese market, IDC said.

"The smartphone industry is facing increasing headwinds from many fronts: weakening demand, inflation, continued geo-political tensions and ongoing supply chain constraints. However, the impact of the China lockdowns -- which have no clear end in sight -- are far greater," said Nabila Popal, research director at IDC's Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

The analyst firm expects there to be a rebound and growth by 2026, however.

Read also: Best Phone to Buy For 2022

iPhones will be least affected by the shortage, IDC said, due to Apple having "greater control over its supply chain" and because its higher-end phone customers are less affected by inflation.

Strategy Analytics in April predicted smartphone shipments would contract by around 2% due to "geopolitical issues, component shortages, price inflation, exchange rate volatility and COVID disruption," while TrendForce in May downgraded its smartphone production forecast for a second time, citing rising inflation and the war in Ukraine.

It follows reports last week that iPhone production would remain flat in 2022 while Samsung reportedly cut its phone production by 30 million this year.

Apple and Samsung didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.