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Smartphone Production To Rebound Next Year

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Production to return to pre-pandemic level for 2022 with 1.39 billion units, says TrendForce

TrendForce expects the smartphone industry to rebound and post marginal growth next year, assuming that economic activities worldwide will mostly return to normal by then. The main trend drivers in the smartphone market next year are still going to be the usual device replacement cycle and the additional demand from emerging markets. TrendForce expects annual smartphone production for 2022 to reach about 1.39 billion units and the YoY growth rate hitting 3.8 percent.

Samsung's smartphone production for 2022 is expected to reach 276 million units, a 1.1 percent YoY growth. The company continues to reorganize and extend its product series. The integration of the Galaxy Note series with the Foldable series, the continuation of the S-Pen, etc. are some of the moves that Samsung has taken to maintain its market share in the high-end segment.

Moreover, Samsung has increased the outsourcing portion of its device manufacturing in order to make its mid-range and low-end models more cost competitive. However, advances in device design and manufacturing will only intensify the competition in developed markets. In the emerging markets, demand will continue to concentrate on entry-level models. Hence, Samsung will have increasing difficulty in growing its market share as most of its offering do not target the demand for entry-level products. This also means that retaining market share will become more challenging for the brand.

Apple is set to release the latest model in its iPhone SE lineup (i.e., the third-generation SE), featuring a 4.7-inch display, A15 SoC, and 5G support, by the end of 1Q22. Other than these features, the rest of the new SE's hardware specifications will be similar to those of the second-gen SE. In this regard, the new SE can be seen as an invaluable asset with which Apple attempts to enter the mid-range 5G smartphone segment. In 2H22, the company will keep to its tradition of announcing four new models, two of which will feature a 6.1-inch display, while the other two will feature a 6.7-inch display.

Although the release of these five new handsets will likely help Apple increase its market share next year, this increase will be constrained by the fact that Apple will have to raise the retail price of its smartphones in order to keep up with rising component prices and ensure some profitability. TrendForce therefore expects Apple's smartphone production for 2022 to reach 243 million units, representing a 5.4 percent YoY growth and the second highest volume among all smartphone brands.

Given that demand will unlikely increase by a significant margin in the domestic Chinese smartphone market next year, the three major Chinese brands, including OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo, will primarily depend on overseas sales for their smartphone market share growths. It should be pointed out that TrendForce's calculation of Xiaomi's production volume also includes handsets released by the brand's subsidiaries Mi, Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark.

Thanks to Xiaomi's relatively early expansion in the overseas markets, as the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is gradually brought under control, Xiaomi is expected to benefit the growth of its overseas sales and register a smartphone production of 220 million units, representing a 15.8 percent YoY growth and the third highest volume among all brands.

Fourth-ranked OPPO sells its smartphones globally under three brands: OPPO, Realme, and OnePlus. TrendForce expects OPPO group's annual smartphone production for 2022 to reach 208 million units, a 2.5 percent YoY growth. Regarding product planning, OPPO is relatively similar compared with Xiaomi, as both of these brands differentiate between various markets and client bases through subsidiaries.

Likewise, OPPO has in recent years actively expanded its peripheral ecosystem businesses, such as software services and additional consumer items, in order to improve its profitability for the year. Finally, Vivo will take the fifth rank next year by producing almost 150 million handsets, a 6.4 percent YoY growth. This brand depends heavily on its customers' cyclical replacement demand for its sales.

Therefore, while the Chinese smartphone market, which is Vivo's primary sales region, becomes increasingly saturated, the brand's room for growth next year will also be relatively limited. In addition, as HONOR will also aggressively look to capture market shares in China, the production volumes of OPPO and Vivo will be further constrained next year.

Thanks to the Chinese government's active push for 5G commercialization for the past two years, the global market share of 5G smartphones will likely hit 37.4 percent in 2021, with about 500 million units produced throughout the year. Going forward, now that the market share of 5G smartphones has surpassed 80 percent in China, the smartphone industry will shift its focus of 5G development to other regional markets.

However, because countries vary in the progress of 5G infrastructure build-out, and 5G service plan fees are higher than 4G fees, the growth of 5G market share now appears to be slowing. As such, TrendForce expects 5G smartphone production for 2022 to reach about 660 million units, translating to a market share of 47.5 percent for 5G handsets in the overall smartphone market.

On the other hand, the growing market share of 5G smartphones also generates a corresponding growing demand for components. Given the increased shipment in servers, IoT devices, and EVs, foundries will find it even harder to manufacture enough components for 5G handsets since foundry capacities are already stretched to their limits. What this also means is that the market share of smartphone brands will depend on how successful they are in booking foundry capacities.

Smartphone brands' scramble for foundry capacities, however, may in turn result in overbookings or uneven allocation of capacities to components, thereby further exacerbating the mismatched availability of smartphone components. Hence, if the actual demand from smartphone buyers falls short of expectations, TrendForce believes that smartphone brands may be forced to adjust their inventories once again in 2H22.

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