Consumers are holding off buying new smartphones in the hope their next device will be 5G compatible, according to new research from Telsyte. However, Apple bucked the trend and wearable devices also proved increasingly popular, according to the Australian study.

Android sales fell seven per cent but it maintains a platform market lead at 53 per cent. Apple’s sales rose 2 per cent and it continues to be the leading phone manufacturer. Apple also recorded the leading repeat purchase intention rate at over 90 per cent.

The figures are contained in the Telsyte Australian Smartphone & Wearable Devices Market Study 2018-2022.

Overall, around 100,000 fewer smartphones were sold in the first half of 2018 compared with 2017 (4.3 million vs 4.4 million), according to the report, which is based on a consumer survey and interviews with industry stakeholders. The decrease is driven in part by consumers not wishing to miss out the newest mobile network, according to Telsyte. 

Around one third of smartphone owners indicated they are waiting for 5G-enabled phones before upgrading, according to the study, and Telsyte expects that trend to continue over the next 18 months as 5G networks roll out. The consumers most willing to wait already own flagship phones and nearly half of iPhone owners intending to upgrade next year said they are likely to wait for a 5G-enabled device.

5G is widely expected to launch before the end of the decade, but there are several challenges to overcome for the Australian market. Currently there are four carriers in Australia with 5G aspirations. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and TPG have all signalled intentions to rollout a 5G network.

“The arrival of 5G will create the next big upgrade event,” said Foad Fadaghi, Telsyte managing director.

“Carriers will be hoping 5G smartphones are available ahead of their network launches, if not soon thereafter.”

Wearable devices increasingly popular

The study also suggests Australian consumers are warming to wearable devices. Smartwatch sales are up more than 80 per cent in the first half of 2018 year on year and nearly one in six smartphone users are pairing their phone to a smartwatch, according to Telsyte.

 Apple dominated the smartwatch market in Australia, with the Apple Watch accounting for over half of all smart wearable devices sold in Australia so far this year.

AirPods have also proved a success, with Telsyte estimating Apple has sold more than 800,000 of its $229 wireless earphones.

Other wearable brands including Fitbit, Samsung and Garmin also grew sales, according to the Telsyte study.

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