A mobile device forecast from ABI Research calls for shipments to increase 2.4% this year compared to 2022 and reach 1.24 billion units. That total would represent a significant rebound compared to last year when the sector declined 9.6% compared to 2021 and finished with 1.207 billion units sold.

Not all devices will see increases, however.

The 5G smartphone sector will increase from 825 million this year (when it will be 67% of the total) to 1.244 billion (93% of the total). Sales of other devices, such as tablets, notebooks, and Chromebooks, peaked during the pandemic and are expected to fall, researchers said.

The dynamics driving the market are complex. Issues include the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical pressures, and supply chain issues. The uncertainty has hindered collaboration, market development, and innovation and impacted demand and supply chains.

These issues also have led to inflation that has depressed confidence in the consumer sector. ABI says this has made the stakeholders more cautious and triggered market uncertainties.

However, there is some cause for optimism, according to ABI Research Director David McQueen.

“Despite the industry’s current woes still looming large, the mobile devices market could potentially be buoyed over the next 18 months by additional technology migration and consumers’ eagerness to embrace new innovative mobile experiences and services, enhanced broadband speeds, leading-edge form factors, including foldable devices, and greater processing power,” McQueen said in a press release about the mobile device forecast. “In combination, these can drive the industry from device-led to a more experience-centric ecosystem.”

“The 5G Mobile Devices, Features, and Technologies: Vendors, Trends, and Forecasts” market data report also looked at the longer term outlook. The firm found that smartphone shipments will grow to 1.33 billion by 2028, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.5%.

The report stresses uncertainty. “While market confidence is under such pressure, it is proving difficult to predict the speed at which future demand will recover in the short- and mid-term across regions, as well as for the many mobile device product types,” the report concludes.

In February, International Data Corp. said that worldwide tablet shipments were 45.7 million units, an increase of 0.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.

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