Washington — Global smartphone sales saw their worst contraction in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 is not much better, new surveys show. Worldwide handset volumes declined 4.1% in 2018 to a total of 1.4-billion units shipped for the full year, according to research firm IDC, which sees a potential for further declines this year. “Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith. “Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, (South) Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.” Reith said the market has been hit by consumers waiting longer to replace their phones, frustration around the high cost of premium devices, and political and economic uncertainty. The Chinese market, which accounts for roughly 30% of smartphone sales, was especially hard hit with a 10% drop, according to IDC's survey. IDC said the top five smartphone makers have become stronger and now account for 69% of worldwide sales, up from 63...

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