Biz / Tech

5G competition poised to heat up in 2020

Rich Zhu
China will account for over half of all 5G phone sales this year, although low price pressure will create competition among vendors, according to industry researchers.
Rich Zhu

5G will bring fresh opportunities and competition to China’s smartphone market, where sales sank for a third year in a row in 2019, researchers said on Friday.

Last year, China’s smartphone sales totaled 389 million units, down 6.2 percent year on year. Sales included over 13.7 million 5G model sales, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology said on Friday.

The decline narrowed in 2019, compared with drops of 12.3 percent and 15.6 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively, according to the academy, a national researcher under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China issued commercial 5G licenses to carriers last year, offering faster Internet access and lower latency compared with 4G networks.

Many popular 5G models cost between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan (US$428-714), lower than previous expectations of 8,000 yuan or more. The price level means that vendors can expect fierce competition, analysts said.

Realme has released its X50 model with a starting price of 2,499 yuan, marking the first major 5G model release of 2020.

Realme, which sold 25 million smartphones globally in 2019, expects business to double in 2020 with “popularized and affordable” 5G sales and smart devices, said Sky Li, founder and CEO of Realme.

Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi have all released 5G models in the domestic market.

China’s 5G smartphone sales will hit 150 million units in 2020, accounting for over half of the global 5G model sales, according to researcher Counterpoint.

The variety and cost of 5G models, network coverage and data packages will also determine the spread of usage, according to the academy.

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