GLOBAL smartphones saw their worst contraction ever in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 isn't much better, new surveys show.

Worldwide handset volumes declined 4.1 percent in 2018 to a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year, according to research firm IDC, which sees a potential for further decline this year.

''Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,'' said IDC analyst Ryan Reith.

''Outside a handful of  high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.''

Reith said the markets has been hit by consumers waiting longer to replace their phones, frustration around the high cost of premium devices, and political and economic uncertainty

The Chinese market, which  accounts for nearly 30 percent  of  smartphone sales, was especially hard hit with a 10 percent drop, according to IDC's survey, which was released on Wednesday.

.IDC said the top five smartphone makers have become stronger and now account for 69 percent of  worldwide sales, up from 63 percent a year ago.

Samsung remained the number one handset maker with a 20.8 percent share despite an eight percent sales slump for the year, IDC said.

Apple managed to recapture the number two position with a 14.9 percent market share, moving ahead of Huawei at 14.7 percent, the survey found.

IDC said fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 4.9 percent - the fifth quarter of decline. [Agencies]


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