Worldwide 4G smartphones are expected to show double-digit uptake at 21.3 percent year-over-year growth for 2016, to reach 1.17 billion units, up from 967 million in 2015, a new report by market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) said.
Much of this growth is being driven by emerging markets like Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa, where only 61 percent of 2015 smartphone shipments were 4G-enabled compared to IDC's 2016 projection of 77 percent, the report entitled "Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker" said.
"We are quickly seeing this change in key growth markets like India where new operator Reliance Jio is aggressively trying to shake up the market by handing out free 4G SIM cards and launching own-branded low-cost 4G-enabled smartphones," said Melissa Chau, Associate Research Director, IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement.
Global smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.45 billion units with a year-over-year growth rate of 0.6 percent in 2016, which is down significantly from the 10.4 percent growth in 2015, the findings showed.
Mature markets (US, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe) are further along the 4G adoption curve with 85 percent in 2015 and a projected 94 percent in 2016, respectively.
Google's Android operating system has been and will remain the majority share platform in smartphones for the foreseeable future. It will also be at the core of the aforementioned 4G growth expected in emerging markets, the report noted.
Windows Phone shipments are expected to decline 79.1 percent in 2016 as the number of OEMs supporting the platform continue to diminish.
Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have done well, but three quarters of year-over-year declines, as well as a projected fourth quarter decline by IDC, will account for negative growth, the report added.