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While it seems obvious that cheap smartphones will eventually overtake high-end sales, the real question is when that will happen.

According to the latest Smartphone Futures report from Juniper Research, it could just be a few years away. The firm expects “ultra-low cost” smartphone sales to grow to 200 million in 2018, and it predicts only 10 million in sales for that segment next year. With that low-end growth, Juniper says the high-end smartphone market will “diminish proportionally.”

Juniper didn’t share details on how it arrived at those figures, but given the explosive growth of the smartphone market over the past five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if its predictions hold true. There’s an increased focus on getting developing countries connected, and we’re seeing things like Firefox’s mobile operating system and Nokia’s Asha line trying to put cheap smartphones in peoples hands. Nielsen recently noted that Russia, Brazil, and India will be the next big mobile battlegrounds.

According to Juniper, we’ll also see more innovative approaches in the high-end market. It points to China’s Xiaomi, which offers high-end hardware and low prices offering people additional services. That competition may also spur on the established high-end market leaders, Apple and Samsung, to step up with their own innovation.

Juniper also notes that we may see some new smartphone paradigms like the Phonebloks concept, which enables you to build and upgrade your own custom smartphone with a modular design, as well as ethically minded solutions like the Fair Phone.


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