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This 2018 was "the worst year" for the smartphone market

Global smartphone sales posted their worst contraction in 2018, and prospects for 2019 are not much better, according to new market research.

Cell phone numbers sold worldwide fell 4.1 percent in 2018 to a total of 1.4 billion units, according to research firm IDC, which forecasts a potential for further declines this year.

"Around the world, the smartphone market is a disaster right now," said Ryan Reith, an analyst at IDC.

"Outside a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam, we did not see much positive activity in 2018."

Reith said the market was affected by consumers who wait longer to replace their phones, frustrated by the high cost of premium devices and political and economic uncertainty.

The Chinese market, which accounts for about 30% of smartphone sales, was particularly affected by a 10% drop, according to IDC analysis, published on Wednesday.

IDC said the top five smartphone manufacturers have grown more and now account for 69 percent of global sales, up from 63 percent a year ago.

Samsung continued to be the number one maker of handsets, with a market share of 20.8%, despite a drop in sales of 8% in the year, according to IDC.

Apple was able to recover second place with a market share of 14.9%, ahead of Huawei with 14.7%, according to the research.

IDC said fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 4.9%, the fifth consecutive quarter of decline.

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