In a blog post, the company predicted there would be a rebound of 9.9% in overall volume in 2021.
“Global smartphone shipments are rebounding rapidly in many markets ahead of the economic and retail consumption recovery,” said Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton.
“Smartphone vendors have relentlessly pushed new product launches, as well as online marketing and sales, during the post-lockdown period, generating strong consumer interest for the latest gadgets.
Canalys said the rapid commoditisation of 5G smartphones in mainland China was a crucial factor behind the huge volume of 5G device shipments in 2020.
“As realme launched its V3 in September, the first sub-US$150 (999 yuan, A$199) 5G smartphone in China, 5G officially becomes a feature for entry-level smartphones,” said Canalys analyst Shengtao Jin. “This milestone has arrived three months earlier than expected and will have a significant ripple effect in other regions, such as Southeast Asia, EMEA, and even Latin America where Chinese vendors are expanding.
“The economies of scale provided by the China market will allow vendors to launch more affordable 5G smartphones in other countries, even if 5G infrastructure in those markets is not fully ready. It is expected that by 2021, nearly 60% of 5G smartphone shipments in China will be cheaper than US$400, while 5G penetration in China will reach 83% in the next 12 months.".
Canalys also predicted that Europe would be the third largest region, behind Greater China and North America, in terms of 5G penetration in 2020 and 2021.
“Fairly aggressively-priced 5G devices are already available in Europe, such as the Motorola G 5G Plus, and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G," said Stanton.
"But with many Apple-centric markets, such as the UK, there is a large base of customers willing to wait for an iPhone with 5G.
"Another headache for mobile operators in Europe is the ongoing uncertainty around Huawei, as it looks increasingly likely that supply chain constraints will hinder its volume potential.
"Huawei was long expected to play a major role in 5G smartphone adoption, and other brands such as Xiaomi, OPPO and TCL are already positioning themselves to fill any vacuum as it appears."
The analyst firm said the average selling price of 5G smartphones in Europe was expected to decrease, but more steadily, considering Apple and Samsung’s share in this region, reaching at US$765 in 2021 and US$477 in 2024.