The technology analyst firm Canalys said its latest research showed that, compared to smartphones, wearable bands and TWS earbud categories would be more resilient in the current environment.
Shipments are projected to grow at 32% for the whole of this calendar year, with strong growth in Greater China, North America, the Asia-Pacific and Euorpe.
"The pandemic will prolong replacement cycles for smartphones. However, the 'lipstick effect' will drive consumers to spend on smaller, less costly items during an economic downturn to meet their buying pleasures," said Canalys research analyst Cynthia Chen.
"Engagement in indoor activities such as remote learning, working from home and home entertainment, as well as outdoor sports and recreation also continued to rise.
"This ushers in greater than expected growth, particularly for TWS headphones, such as those from Apple, Samsung, Jlab and QCY etc."
Canalys said shipments of TWS earbuds were expected to grow 39% in 2021 to reach more than 350 million units, much more than wearable bands, which were expected to grow at 12% in the same year.
It said Chinese smartphone makers were looking to external markets for growth in wearable bands and TWS earbuds.
"Despite the likelihood of needing more time to recover from the pandemic, Southeast Asia nations are attractive due to their large population base and proximity to China," said Chen.
"Some Chinese players that already have well-established channels are leveraging cross-border e-commerce platforms to reach users and shipping devices directly from China or Hong Kong.
"Chinese players are well poised to offer more choices, especially with affordable and appealing devices that resonate well with local users. They are expected to play a big part in pushing the overall APAC region to surpass North America and become the second-largest region for wearable bands and TWS headphones in 2024."