The coronavirus has put a lot of pressure on many industries over the past few weeks, as economic activity in the world grinds to a halt.

The latest casualty is the telecom sector, as a recent report confirms that mobile phone sales have dwindled since the virus began.

Forty Percent Drop in Shipments

Notable research firm Strategy Analytics confirmed that global smartphone shipments slumped to a 35-month low, showing just how devastating COVID-19 has been. According to the company’s report, shipments have dipped significantly, going from 99.2 million in February 2019 to 61.8 million in 2020.

The figures marked almost a 40 percent drop year-on-year, making it the largest drop in global sales ever recorded.

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Linda Sui, the author of the study, explained that the deficit is a result of lagging enthusiasm from both sides. Many phone manufacturers have been disincentivized to make phones, while consumers haven’t felt the need to purchase any and have been avoiding phone stores as part of their safety precautions.

The figures also highlight the incredible irony of the situation. February and March were slated to be huge sales months for the smartphone industry. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) — the world’s biggest phone show — was canceled as operators pulled out following coronavirus concerns.

Phone makers across the world have also witnessed a sharp decline in sales for their latest releases. South Korean giant Samsung, which released its Galaxy S20 series in February, has witnessed sliding demand for its flagship devices.

Researchers expect the drop to persist, given that the virus has already spread globally with no vaccine in sight.

Huawei Feels the Market Slump

Strategy Analytics’ numbers also showed that there’s been a shift in the rankings of top smartphone manufacturers. Xiaomi has now surpassed Huawei as the third-largest seller of smartphones, managing to sell 500,000 more units than the latter. One reason for this is a trade ban on Huawei’s products.

Samsung still dominates the market as the largest phone maker, despite the decline in S20 sales. The South Korean company shipped more than 18 million smartphones in February alone. Apple follows, with 10.2 million phones shipped.

Researchers also highlighted more woes for Huawei, explaining that the Chinese phone manufacturer might not bounce back easily once the pandemic ends. Prior to the outbreak, the company was expecting a 20 percent slump in sales in 2020. Add Covid-19 to the mix, and things could get really ugly.

At least, the company can take solace in the fact that its 5G technology has been picking up steam.