Another Tough Year Ahead for Bruised Mobile Phone Market

  • Worldwide shipments of mobile phones to decline a further 4% in 2023 following a weak 2022
  • Demand for second-hand phones continues to grow as consumers seek cost-effective options in a tough economy
  • Growing demand for high-end devices will drive further adoption of 5G-enabled phones in 2023 despite difficulties in the wider market

London, 23 March 2023: The global mobile phone market is forecast to endure another tough year in 2023. Shipments are set to be at their lowest annual level for well over a decade at 1.35 billion units, declining by 4% from an already weak 2022. Worldwide shipments of new smartphones will fall to 1.16 billion units. This is all according to CCS Insight’s latest market forecast.

“Three main factors spell trouble for the mobile phone market, which was in touching distance of selling 2 billion units a year in 2015,” explains Marina Koytcheva, Vice President of Forecasting at CCS Insight. “Not only are people happy to use the same phone for longer, something that’s been true for a few years now, there is also the continuous pressure from global economic uncertainty on one hand, and the growing appeal of used devices on the other”.

“The market for second-hand devices is forecast to continue growing in 2023 as people seek value-for-money options in the face of a weak economy and choose pre-owned phones to support a more environmentally friendly lifestyle”, comments Parul Saxena, Senior Analyst at CCS Insight. Rapid developments in the supply for many markets will support this growth, and CCS Insight, which tracks the second-hand segment in detail, projects that 330 million used devices will be sold in 2023. A growing proportion of these will be through organized channels.

The decline for new devices is expected to be more pronounced in the first half of 2023, with a trajectory toward recovery in the fourth quarter when economic headwinds are expected to calm. Most regions will see shipments drop, with Western Europe and North America particularly hit by inflationary pressure and financial uncertainty. Demand in China is forecast to improve throughout 2023 after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions at the end of 2022, and demand in India will remain stable.

“Brands focussed on premium phones will continue to benefit from the polarization of the market, as consumers from higher income groups are less affected by the weaker economy — as is clearly visible in our recurring Connected Consumer Radar survey,” notes Saxena. “In contrast, those targeting the low- and mid-range markets are likely to face problems this year as their customers become even more price-sensitive”.

The high-end market is expected to remain relatively strong in 2023. Globally, 5G-enabled phones are forecast to reach 700 million shipments, accounting for more than one in two phones sold in the year.

Although the global economy remains vulnerable, CCS Insight expects the market to gradually improve from 2024. However, the global market for new devices is not expected to recover to the levels seen in the mid-2010s, as the increasing strength of the second-hand market suppresses demand for new devices.

The market for used mobile phones is expected to continue growing even when the financial outlook improves, as people become more environmentally conscious. This trend is likely to continue in the coming years, with second-hand devices as a proportion of all sales forecast to almost double by 2027.

“Our research shows that mobile phones remain the most loved connected device that people own. But that doesn’t mean that consumers want to keep buying phones as often as before, or purchase brand-new devices. Post-pandemic consumer behaviour has changed, and the industry needs to adapt to the new reality,” Koytcheva concludes.

A summary of CCS Insight’s new forecast is presented below.

More details of CCS Insight’s extensive mobile phone research service can be found here. For more information about our products and services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Notes to editors

CCS Insight is a leading provider of research about mobile phones, second-hand smartphones and 5G technology. This forecast is part of a broader suite of research into these areas, including pricing, consumer surveys, regular reports and updates on the latest announcements, events and news.

About CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on current and future trends in technology. It provides comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @CCSInsight on Twitter or learn more at

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