THE Philippine smartphone market contracted 5.6% to 17.8 million units in 2021, with lockdowns dampening buying activity and global supply bottlenecks restricting supply, the International Data Corp. (IDC) said.

“The recurring lockdowns and global supply constraints in the second half of 2021 hampered the market’s growth with several vendors struggling to fulfill orders during the holiday season, resulting in low inventories across the channels,” the IDC, a market research company for the tech industry, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The IDC said sales in the fourth quarter of 2021 declined 23.3% year on year even as shipments increased 18.4% quarter on quarter.

“The gradual reopening of retail shops resulted in more consumers buying through physical stores,” it said.

The IDC expects “double-digit growth” in the smartphone market this year, recovering from a weak second half of 2021, and as supply constraints ease.

Angela Jenny V. Medez, client devices market analyst at IDC Philippines, said the smartphone market’s growth this year will be driven by fifth-generation (5G) smartphones, which accounted for 12.7% of shipments in 2021.

“The share is expected to double in 2022. In addition, aggressive pricing among Chinese vendors has dragged the average price for 5G Android smartphones down from $471 in 4Q20 (fourth quarter of 2020) to $386 in 4Q21 (fourth quarter of 2021), with some 5G models priced less than $200,” she added.

The top five smartphone brands in terms shipments to the Philippines last year were realme (3.96 million), OPPO (2.62 million), Transsion (2.47 million), Samsung (2.40 million), and vivo (2.39 million).

Last year, realme had a 22.2% market share in the Philippines, followed by Samsung (15.3%), OPPO (14.7%), Transsion (13.8%), and vivo (13.4%).

“Shipments to retail channels are expected to bounce back in 2022, as foot traffic continues to increase in the shopping malls, where most of the key smartphone stores and kiosks are located in the larger cities. The vendors are expected to restart their retail expansion and open more stores across the country, which had taken a hiatus during the lockdowns,” Ms. Medez said. — Arjay L. Balinbin