According to a new forecast from IDC overall smartphone shipments will steadily grow from 1.5 billion units in 2017 to 1.7 billion units in 2021. Apple's launch of the iPhone 8/8+ and X in late 2017 set the company up to return to iPhone volume growth in 2017, adds the research group.
IDC expects an even bigger rebound in 2018 as channels fill up with inventory of the new models and as price cuts around earlier models enable it to hit lower price points. Coming off the 7% decline in iPhone shipments in 2016, IDC is forecasting growth of 2.4% in 2017 and 8.1% in 2018. IDC also projects sustained growth for Apple through the later years of the forecast with volumes growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1%.
“Phablets” (smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches to under-7 inches) will far outpace total market growth by climbing from 611 million units in 2017 to one billion units in 2021, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1%, according to IDC. In comparison, the total smartphone market is expected to grow at a 3.0% CAGR during the same period, while normal smartphones (under 5.5 inches) will decline 7.4%. Overall, IDC lowered its previous forecast for 2018-2021 by 1.1%-1.5%,depending on the year.
Apple has also made a massive push into the phablet space and IDC expects its Plus and X devices to account for 41.2% of its shipment volume in 2017 and 50% or more of Apple's iPhone shipments in 2018. If the recent rumors of new, larger screen iPhones in 2018 hold true, then this number will likely grow further as a share of its overall shipment volume, according to the research group.