The fall was much bigger in the first six months of the year, coming in at 26% year-on-year, with the reasons advanced for this being the stay-at-home mandate, remote work, remote education, travel restrictions, and manufacturing shutdowns.
However the market recovered in the second half of the year, showing 19% growth year-on-year. In the fourth quarter 45 million devices were shipped, a rise of 21% year-on-year.
Xiaomi was the top-selling brand, followed by Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO.
"In 2021, IDC expects the smartphone market to grow in high single-digits year-on-year, driven majorly by upgrading consumers, in the mid-range segment and affordable 5G offerings (below US$250 (A$321)).
"Also, revamped offline channel play is anticipated, to bring back growth in the very important brick and mortar counters for long-term sustainability.”
IDC said the online channel performed better than the overall market, growing by 12% annually with a 48% market share. Multiple sales events, promotions, trade-in/upgrade programs, and affordability initiatives helped reach a record 51% share in the last quarter of the year.
However, in the pre-Diwali weeks of October and November, retail footfall gradually picked up, registering 5% year-on-year growth in 4Q20.
Another noticeable trend was that MediaTek processor-based smartphone shipments led with a share of 43%, closely followed by Qualcomm at 40%, with the former expanding its lead in the price segment below US$200.
IDC also noted that 5G smartphone shipments crossed three million in 2020, with Chinese OEMs rolling out aggressively-priced devices, including Xiaomi’s Mi 10i at a price below US$250. "But adoption was limited by higher prices and the lack of a 5G network, which is expected to start to roll out in late 2021 or early 2022," the firm added.
Upasana Joshi, associate research manager, Client Devices, IDC India, said: "As more 5G devices enter in 2021, the average selling price for smartphones is expected to rise. IDC expects vendors to launch 5G devices at multiple price points backed by aggressive promotions, as 5G currently remains a novelty rather than a necessity to most."