Smartphone sales to bounce back, but consumers to hold onto devices longer, claims new report

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Smartphone shipments are set to shrug off a disappointing 2017 and sales will hit almost 1.9 billion this year, a new report has suggested.

Analyst house Gartner said the market will bounce back from last year when smartphone sales declined 5.6 percent year on year, the first time the market has fallen.

In addition, it said shipments will grow 1.6 percent this year, with growth accelerating to five percent year on year by 2019.

Consumers have been predicted to hold onto premium handsets for longer in the years running up to 2020. 

[Read more: iOS and Android gain smartphone market share in Europe as Windows enters tailspin]

Anshul Gupta, Research Director at Gartner, said: "Premium phone lifetimes are expected to increase the most in the near-term, as users look to hold onto these devices due to a lack of new technology impact, prohibiting upgrades."

However, the upgrade cycle will speed up beyond 2020 thanks to new kinds of features hitting devices. Gupta added: "By 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities on smartphones will offer a more intelligent digital persona on the device. Machine learning, biometrics and user behaviour will improve the ease of use, self-service and frictionless authentications.

"This will allow smartphones to be more trusted than other credentials, such as credit cards, passports, IDs or keys."

The report highlighted AI capabilities as particularly key in the decade ahead, specifically their ability to learn, plan and solve user problems. Gupta added: "This is not just about making the smartphone smarter, but augmenting users by reducing their cognitive load and enabling a ‘Digital Me’ that sits on the device."