Industry watchers began talking about an imminent slow-down in the high-end smartphone market back in 2011, but 2012 was still a huge year for pricy smartphones with cutting-edge specs. According to market research firm Berg Insight, sales of high-end smartphones from the likes of Apple and Samsung with retail prices above €400 before subsidies grew to 250 million units in 2012, up from 150 million in 2011. Of those, Berg says 40 million smartphones were flagship phones powered by cutting-edge quad-core processors.
While specs will continue to get more impressive in the coming years at the top of the smartphone food chain, the firm believes we’ve already found the sweet spot: The majority of the 1.5 billion smartphones expected to be sold in 2017 will feature quad-core processors according to Berg, leaving eight-core chipsets from the likes of Samsung as outliers.
Berg’s full press release follows below.
Shipments of quad-core smartphones reached 40 million units worldwide in 2012
Gothenburg, Sweden – June 18, 2013: According to a new research report by Berg Insight, sales of high-end smartphones equipped with quad-core application processors reached 40 million units worldwide in 2012. Total smartphone sales grew almost 47 percent to 690 million units in 2012, up from 470 million units in the previous year. High-end smartphones with unsubsidised retail prices above € 400 and low-cost devices priced at around € 100 and below contributed to most of the growth in the smartphone category in 2012. Sales of high-end devices increased from about 150 million units in 2011 to an estimated 250 million units in 2012. Going forward, most of the growth will come from low-cost smartphones costing less than € 100, followed by mid-range handsets.
The first smartphones with dual-core application processors were released in early 2011, offering more than double the computing power of the previous generation high-end smartphones. Sales of dual-core smartphones accelerated in 2012, reaching an estimated 250 million units, up from 70 million units in 2011. The first handsets with quad-core processors were launched in early 2012. A wide range of standalone application processors and system-on-chips (SoCs) that integrate application processors and cellular basebands are becoming available to address different price points in the increasingly competitive smartphone category. This will likely bring more choice for consumers, while product marketing becomes more challenging for handset vendors. “It becomes more difficult for consumers to make comparisons between handsets when application processor vendors introduce SoCs based on different CPU architectures and core counts, each with different performance depending on specific workload”, said André Malm, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. Berg Insight anticipates that nearly all of the 1.5 billion smartphones sold in 2017 will be equipped with at least dual-core processors and the majority will feature quad-core processors.