Analyst firm Counterpoint Research said one of the main reasons behind this forecast was the expected launch of several Android smartphones that used Qualcomm's 855 system-on-a-chip in 2019 and subsequent years.
The company said that while smartphone vendors had been using AI capabilities for some time, the processing had been done either in the cloud or else distributed across the various processors - CPUs, GPUs or digital signal processors.
At present, AI was being used mostly for camera-related applications like facial recognition and image enhancement. This was expected to spread to other applications over the next two years.
“Today, most voice processing in smartphones is cloud-based. However, voice assistants will be able to process commands quicker and respond faster with on-device processing. It also resolves privacy concerns.”
Counterpoint said Apple and Huawei were the first two smartphone companies to include dedicated AI processors - the A11 and the Kirin 970 respectively - in their flagship devices launched in September 2017.
Two years later, virtually all SoC vendors were doing so, with Qualcomm, for example, offering an AI Tensor Accelerator in the Snapdragon 855’s Hexagon DSP.
“With Qualcomm joining the fray and incorporating hardware-based AI acceleration in its latest Snapdragon SoC for the first time, industry-wide adoption of AI silicon in smartphones is inevitable,” said Peter Richardson, research director at Counterpoint Research.
“And with Qualcomm keen to extend machine learning capabilities into its lower cost chips, plus the availability of AI SoCs for mid-range phones from other vendors, this trend will quickly extend to mid-range and even low-range smartphones."