The incredible smartphone market growth seen over the past seven years has begun to slow, but sales of the devices are still increasing. Major tech manufacturers are still relying on the segment for a significant portion of their device sales, though smartphone prices are dropping and the quality of high-end devices is improving at a slower rate.
Market research firm Juniper Research this week released new estimates for smartphone shipments in 2014. It predicts that unit shipments will reach nearly 1.2 billion by the end of the year, a 19 percent increase over the estimated 985 million smartphones shipped in 2013.
Samsung and Apple are expected to continue leading the high-end smartphone market around the world. Juniper predicts that these two companies will account for around 45% of smartphone shipments in 2014. The firm also believes that the new iPhone 6 Plus will put pressure on Samsung and other manufacturers that had taken advantage of a market for larger smartphones free of Apple products.
Apple last week announced this year's new iPhone - or iPhones to be exact. The iPhone 6 will have a 4.7-inch 1334 x 750 resolution display and the iPhone 6 Plus will have a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display.
Other than the new screen sizes, the new iPhones offer only a few significant upgrades from the iPhone 5. Both versions of the iPhone 6 will feature Apple's new 64-bit A8 processor, said by the company to be 25 percent faster than the A7.
Juniper also predicts that the smartphone market trends seen over the past two years will continue.
Chinese manufactureers are expected to see continued success selling low-priced smartphones in emerging markets such as China and India. Google's new Android One initiative could also help these smaller manufacturers pack better hardware and software into their smartphones.
The largest growth markets for the smartphone industry will be seen in these emerging markets, which Juniper refers to as "vital" for the continued success of smartphones. Sales of smartphones priced at $150 and under are expected to rise, pushing the average sale price of smartphones down to just $274 by the year 2019.