Strategy Analytics predicted that the first 5G mobile phones will start shipping in around 2020, which is also when 5G networks are expected to start launching on a broader scale.
According to Strategy Analytics director Ken Hyers, the first commercial 5G handsets will appear in small numbers in 2020 in South Korea and Japan. More launches are then expected in the U.S., the UK, Sweden and the UAE in 2021, with commercial sales set to exceed 300 million by 2025.
“By 2022 tens of millions of 5G handsets will be sold, and as a proportion of total handset sales will reach low single digit percentages,” Hyers said.
Senior analyst Ville-Petteri Ukonaho added that the first trial handsets are expected to appear in 2018 but would experience some “teething problems, including short battery life, no 4G handover or unstable connectivity.”
Ukonaho said these problems should be largely resolved by 2020, but also noted that the first commercial 5G handsets “will likely come with very high price tags.”
Strategy Analytics also predicted that 5G connections would reach 690 million by 2025, explaining that this figure relates to “user-linked subscriptions” and does not include industrial machine-to-machine connections.
“We are including connections for which there is an individual user end-point (either B2C or B2B), such as for consumer electronics products, but does not include vertical/industrial applications,” said Phil Kendall, executive director at Strategy Analytics.
The figure includes connections for handsets; modem and embedded connections in PCs/notebooks/laptops; tablets; and connections in the consumer electronics category including consumer wearables, connected cars, e-book readers, portable games consoles and media players, digital cameras and navigation devices.
“M2M/IoT connections related to vertical/industrial applications which do not have an individual end-user responsible for the bill are not included in this category,” Kendall stressed.
Strategy Analytics senior analyst Guang Yang commented that 5G network plans have developed well in 2016, “driving an ecosystem which will put 7 per cent of mobile connections on 5G networks by 2025.”
Yet Yang pointed to the threat of fragmentation because of the different agendas being pursued at regional level.
“China’s 2020 5G launch plans brings it closer to early adopters in the U.S., South Korea and Japan, [which] are speeding up progress to meet the broadband access demands from the Olympic Games and competition of non-traditional players. In contrast, European operators are currently paying more attention to opportunities in IoT,” Yang said.
Operators and vendors are certainly pressing ahead with 5G development initiatives, with new collaborations coming thick and fast. For example, Deutsche Telekom recently added a host of new partners including Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Qualcomm, and Samsung to a 5G research programme it formed earlier this year with SK Telecom.
BT also agreed a 5G research deal with Nokia earlier in August.
- see the Strategy Analytics release