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Worldwide smartphone shipments tick up, driven mostly by emerging markets, 5G

African, Asian and Middle Eastern markets are leading the global recovery as larger markets slow down.

iPhones are leading Android devices in terms of global shipments.
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Global smartphone shipments are expected to increase by 7.4% this year, according to new IDC data. The global pandemic suppressed last year's numbers, but the IDC confirmed that 2021's estimates are still an improvement over 2019 shipments. 

The IDC says Apple's iOS devices are a bigger portion of that growth (13.8%) than Android devices (6.2%). Emerging markets from Africa to Asia are the primary markets driving the increase in shipments, offsetting negative shipment numbers in the US, Western Europe and China. 

5G devices are the other major boon to smartphone shipments, as 5G shipment volume is projected to increase 123% -- more than doubling 2020 numbers. The IDC also predicts that 5G devices will make up 54% of smartphone shipments by the end of next year. 

However, despite the rise in 5G devices, global shipment growth is expected to slow down after this year. The IDC projects shipments to grow just 3.4% in each of the next two years.