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Apple the big winner as smartphone sales surged in the second half of 2020

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Apple was the big winner as smartphone sales increased by 3 per cent in the second half  of 2020 while we were still gripped by the COVID pandemic, compared to the same period in 2019, according to research by analyst firm Telsyte.

The Telsyte Australian Smartphone and Wearable devices study showed sales of iPhones increased by 12 per cent to 2.1 million units in the second half of 2020.

And this was driven by more affordable iPhones like the iPhone SE, the price-reduced iPhone 11 models and demand for Apple’s first 5G device – the iPhone 12.

In contrast, sales of Android-powered smartphones fell by 4 per cent in the period to 2.45 million units.

The surge in iPhone sales increased Apple’s smartphone market share in Australia to 46.2 per cent – an increase of 3.8 per cent compared to the second half of 2019.

The iPhone SE

Android market share dropped by 3.8 per cent but it still held the majority with 53.8 per cent.

Apple, Samsung and Oppo remained the top three vendors by sales and each of the brands increased their sales in that half.

Telsyte’s report also revealed that 40 per cent of all smartphones sold between June and December last year were 5G capable.

In 2021, this figure is expected to exceed 60 per cent as more mid-tier and premium smartphones support 5G.

Despite strong second half sales, stats for the entire 2020 declined 1 per cent (8.38m – down from 8.44m in 2019) which is a reflection of the market maturity and economic effects of the pandemic.

Refurbished iPhones are popular

Now the current average replacement cycles for a smartphone, according Telsyte, has increased to three years – up from 2.8 years.

And while the market has increased at the back end of 2020, the competition increasing among lower priced devices and the consumer-to-consumer second-hand market.

Telsyte estimates less than 500,000 refurbished smartphones were sold in 2020 with iPhones by far the most popular.

But demand for refurbished iPhones dropped with the release of the iPhone SE and reduced iPhone 11 in the second half of 2020.

The research also reveal interesting information regarding the Apple and Google ecosystems with the report showing 2.5 million Australians using five or more Apple products and services including iPhone, iCloud, Apple Music or Apple Watch – an increase of 400,000 from the year before.

Google had only 800,000 customers using five or more of its services – a decline of 100,000 from a year earlier.

Smart wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers have also maintained a strong momentum with around 7.9 million Australians using these devices.

Even smart hearables – wireless earbuds and headphones that are linked to digital assistants, voice activation and integration with a smartphone, computer or smartwatch – are used by more than 5.9 million Australians.

Smart wearables were dominated by the smartwatch which made up 72 per cent of the market with Apple the leader followed Samsung, Garmin and Fitbit.