One in four cellphones sold in 2020 were bought online

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New research says that the coronavirus prompted online orders of smartphones to increase to 26% of phone sales worldwide.

Prompted by COVID-19, the number of cellphones bought online instead of in-store increased during 2020. On average, 26% of all phone handset sales were online, with the US seeing 24%, while the UK saw 39%, and 45% of India's phones were ordered online.

According to Counterpoint Research, the worldwide trend meant that "online handset sales in 2020 increased by nearly 6%" compared to 2019.

"This trend was strong not only in advanced markets such as the US and Europe but also in emerging markets such as India and Latin America," says Counterpoint's report. "In China, where the spread of COVID-19 first occurred, it peaked in the first half and softened slightly in the second half, while the US and India recorded the highest ever online share in the second half of 2020."

"After the rapid growth in 2020, we expect 2021 to see some easing after the COVID-19 vaccination," says senior analyst Sujeong Lim. "However, it is expected to grow slightly every year from 2022 onwards, supported by growth in emerging markets and the middle-aged population becoming more accustomed to IT devices and internet use."

Separately, Counterpoint Research recently reported that the iPhone 12 active user base grew faster than that of the iPhone 11, despite it having gone on sale later in the year than usual.

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