- Sales of 5G smartphones will exceed 1 billion worldwide by 2025 as electronics companies make handsets with a broader range of prices and wireless carriers continue to build out their next-generation networks. 5G sales will grow from less than 1% of the smartphone market this year to 10% in 2020 as consumer adoption jumps, per an announcement by consulting firm Strategy Analytics.
- Samsung is the current market leader in 5G smartphones with strong sales in the U.S. and its home country of South Korea, where 1 million people signed up for service in the first 70 days of rollout. "All major smartphone vendors including Apple are developing 5G handsets and will many more devices will launch in 2020," Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.
- China will be a key growth market for 5G smartphone sales as the country prioritizes rapid development of the high-speed mobile networks. "The ability of the industry to deliver lower-cost 5G smartphones will be critical to allow China to reach this goal next year," Ken Hyers, director of emerging device strategies at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.
Cellular carriers and handset makers for years have touted the technological revolution that will come with the rollout of high-speed mobile networks, including marketing applications like augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences for e-commerce, Internet of Things (IoT) appliances that automatically order products for home delivery and faster downloads of video ads that eat up bandwidth. The current 5G reality hasn't lived up to the hype, but Strategy Analytics says that's about to change with the build-out of higher-speed cellular networks and a broader range of 5G-enabled devices.
Among smartphone makers, Samsung took an early lead in 5G with this year's rollout of its Galaxy S10, which included a next-generation model priced at $1,300 in the U.S. It's too early to tell whether Samsung's early start will hobble rivals like Apple, which isn't expected to introduce a 5G iPhone until next year. As the Verge reported, 5G networks are still in the early stages of development and aren't yet capable of delivering a consistent experience for consumers. People who sign up for 5G in its current form should prepare to be disappointed by spotty service and limited coverage.
Still, marketers must prepare for a broader rollout of 5G that will start to ramp up next year. Already, companies have experimented with the technology for marketing and promotional activities. AT&T, Ericsson, Intel and Warner Bros. in February debuted a mixed-reality "Batman" experience to demonstrate how high-speed 5G mobile networks could work for marketers. In May, South Korean telecom company KT showed off a collaboration with Disney that featured an AR game based on the movie "Avengers: Endgame."