The launch of 5G iPhones this year will help 2020 device growth, predicts Gartner, before the decline returns next year.

Gartner’s annual global device forecast aims to predict shipments for all sizes of computing devices, from smartwatches to PCs. The company says that this year will see a rare return to growth…

Worldwide shipments of devices — PCs, tablets and mobile phones — will total 2.16 billion units in 2020, an increase of 0.9% from 2019, according to Gartner, Inc. In 2019, global shipments of devices totaled 2.15 billion units.

“2020 will witness a slight market recovery,” said Ranjit Atwal, research senior director at Gartner. “Increased availability of 5G handsets will boost mobile phone replacements, which will lead global device shipments to return to growth in 2020.”

The global devices market has been in decline as a slower pace of technological development sees people hold onto their existing devices for longer.

The biggest growth will be in smartphones, thanks to demand for 5G models.

The worldwide mobile phone market is on course to grow by 1.7% in 2020 […] Shipments of smartphones were weak in 2019, recording a 2% decline year over year, but are expected to grow in 2020, particularly in Greater China and emerging markets in Asia/Pacific.

Gartner estimates that 5G models will account for 12% of mobile phone shipments in 2020, and that will reach 43% by 2022.

That’s partly a factor of more brands offering 5G models – with Apple the headline news here – and partly due to better 5G coverage. The availability of 5G connectivity is currently extremely limited, with the faster mmWave service mostly only available at the busiest locations in larger cities: major public transit hubs, sports stadiums, and tourist attractions.

2020 device growth will be short-lived, however. Gartner expects the decline to resume from 2021, though falling 5G phone prices will help buoy the smartphone market.

The PC market did see a boost in 2019, thanks to Microsoft announcing the end of support for Windows 7, prompting upgrades. Increased demand for Windows machines saw Mac market share fall.

You can catch up on everything we’re expecting from this year’s iPhones in our iPhone 12 guide.

Image: Shutterstock

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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