Sales of 5G smartphones surpassed 4G devices for the first time in January, accounting for 51 percent of the global trade with Apple contributing heavily to the increase. According to a study by Counterpoint Research, the surge in 5G adoption was mainly the result of Apple’s launch of the iPhone 12 series – its first flagships to support the current standard for broadband cellular networks – in 2020.
China had the highest 5G penetration globally at 84 percent in January, amid a push by local telecom operators and the readiness of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to market competitively-priced 5G smartphones to consumers, the study said.
“After Apple shifted to 5G in October 2020 with the iPhone 12 Series, North America and Western Europe saw a natural increase in the sales penetration of 5G smartphones. These regions are expected to continue contributing substantially to 5G sales globally,” Counterpoint said.
The global 5G technology market was valued at $5.13 billion in 2020 and is expected to hit almost $798bn by 2030 at a compound annual rate of 65.8 per cent from 2021 to 2030, according to Allied Market Research.
The GSMA predicts that there will be two billion 5G connections by 2025, with adoption rates the highest in developed Asia-Pacific (64 percent), North America (63 percent), Greater China (52 percent) and GCC Arab states (49 percent). Also by that year, 5G is forecast to have a 21 percent share of mobile technology, which pales in comparison with the 57 percent expected to be occupied by 4G, Statista data shows.
Meanwhile, lower semiconductor costs have also helped, with industry majors such as Qualcomm and MediaTek offering more affordable chips that in turn brought down the cost of 5G-capable mid-range smartphones, Counterpoint said. The mid-to-high price segment, once at $250-$400, is now going down to the $150-$250 range, contributing one-fifth of 5G sales in January, it said.
In a separate report, Counterpoint said that China’s Realme ended last year as the fastest-growing vendor of 5G devices, posting a 165 percent surge in shipments during the fourth quarter of 2021. Samsung, the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, was next with 109 per cent growth, followed by Xiaomi and Huawei’s former sub-brand Honor (98 percent), Vivo (55 percent), Oppo (42 percent) and Apple (30 percent).