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IDC Predicts That 4G Smartphone Sales In 2016 Will Account For More Than 1 Billion Sold

1 December 2016, 10:18 pm EST By James Geddes Tech Times
Sales of 4G smartphones are expected to increase dramatically. About 1.17 billion 4G smartphones are expected to ship in 2016.  ( Ethan Miller | Getty Images )

A new report from IDC claims that sales of 4G smartphones are on the rise. The firm believes that worldwide smartphone sales are expected to reach 1.17 billion in 2016.

4G LTE Smartphones Hit The Market

One of the first smartphones to ship with a snappy 4G LTE radio was Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt, which launched in March 2011. While the smartphone was able to achieve Verizon's advertised 4G LTE speeds, the handset suffered from dismal battery life, which some users reported as low as 2.5 hours. Apple didn't introduce its first 4G LTE iPhone until September 2012 when it released the 4-inch iPhone 5 and was finally able to offer users enough battery life to make it through a day of typical usage. Since then, 4G LTE has become a necessity for everything from smartphones to mobile hotspots and even smartwatches.

As the world waits for the first devices to ship with even faster 5G radios, consumers are buying smartphones with 4G LTE radios at record rates. IDC is reporting that we will see significant growth in 4G smartphone sales in 2016. The firm reports that 967 million 4G smartphones were shipped in 2015 and that number is expected to rise to around 1.17 billion in 2016.

Google's Android And Apple's iOS Lead The Way

Samsung, HTC, Huawei, LG, along with Google and its Android OS will account for the majority of 4G smartphones shipped in 2016, while Apple and its iPhones powered by iOS will also contribute to the number of 4G smartphones sold. Google's Pixel and Pixel XL; Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge; and Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have also seen strong sales.

"As we approach the holiday quarter smartphone marketing has picked up significantly across almost all regions as expected," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "In North America and Western Europe, Google has been putting a significant amount of marketing dollars behind the new Pixel and Pixel XL, although early supply chain indications are that volumes are not at the point where Samsung or Apple should see a significant impact for Q4. Of course, as we head into 2017 this can change, but many eyes will be on Google to see how serious they are about pursuing the hardware play."

While Microsoft hasn't completely abandoned the smartphone market, the company is expected to see a 79.1 percent decline in smartphone shipments in 2016. The company is widely rumored to be working on a Surface smartphone that could be introduced to consumers in late 2017 or early 2018, according to various reports.

Since the first 5G smartphones aren't expected to debut until late 2018, sales of 4G handsets are expected to climb, in particular in developing countries, according to IDC.

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