Written by Brendan Dowd at GfK

In the first four months of 2017, smartphone sales grew by 4% on last year, an impressive result considering the delayed launch of a few flagship phones in 2017. During those four months, sales for outright phones (i.e. phones purchased without any operator network attachment) grew by over 30%, with strong growth in the consumer electronic and mass merchant channels especially.

This growth in outright phone sales has meant that Australians are spending more than ever on phones and are increasingly looking for ways to protect that investment.

Mobile accessories provide the best means of protection, and also expand the use of our mobile devices. At GfK Australia, three main types of accessories are measured: chargers, cases and screen protectors. We will look through each of these in turn.

Chargers: Power packs leading the way

Chargers (excluding stand-alone cables) are the fastest growing category within mobile accessories, gaining on cases following strong growth in mobile power packs. Power packs account for half of all charger sales, with wall chargers and car chargers making up 23% and 17% respectively.

Wireless charging pads are a relatively new area within the chargers market and already make up 3% of purchases. With an average price that is nearly double that of standard chargers, this area is expected to take up a greater value share in the future.

Cases: Colour and shape

Ranked by value, cases are the largest individual category within mobile accessories, sitting ahead of both chargers and screen protectors. Just under two thirds of all cases purchased in 2017 have been clip on cases, followed by flip cases at 22%. Rubber TPU cases are the most common material, accounting for 74% of all cases sold, while the second most popular was leather with 17% of purchases.

Colour is also a key part of the decision making process when purchasing a phone case. Half of all cases purchased in 2017 were black, followed by clear or transparent cases at 15%, then white cases at 7%. Interestingly, colours such as gold, pink, red and purple all have higher shares amongst cases purchased for Apple phones compared to those for Samsung.

Screen protectors: Rising prices

Screen protectors are the other main accessory for smartphones. Prices for screen protectors have risen by 16% year on year as more premium screen protectors with higher quality and better materials are taking larger shares within the market.

Nearly 30% of all screen protectors purchased in 2017 had a price of $30 or more, compared to just 18% in 2016. The average price for a smartphone in 2017 is over $750, so the rising price of screen protectors reflects a growing need for consumers to protect their phones.

Where to from here?

Looking forward, the mobile accessories market is expected to follow the growth trend shown within smartphones. Newer types of accessories, such as VR and AR head mounts, charging cases and Bluetooth tags are all forecast to grow in sales and help make our phone accessories smarter than ever.