Strategy Analytics forecasts that 5G devices will take off in 2020, exceeding one-billion globally by 2025, compared to accounting for less than 1% of all handsets sold globally this year.
The report, entitled Global Smartphone Sales Forecast by Technology for 88 Countries to 2024 shows that within five years, 5G phones will equal nearly half of all phones sold.
"South Korea is leading the 5G race at the moment but China intends to quickly become the global 5G leader," says Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy. "The ability of the industry to deliver lower-cost 5G smartphones will be critical to allow China to reach this goal next year."
The first devices will be premium- and high-tier devices, but by the end of 2020 there will be more mid-range devices available, especially in China, adds Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics.
Strategy Analytics estimates that less than 1% of phones sold in 2019 will be 5G devices, but that share will grow to nearly 10% in 2020.
"Price is the main concern for early adopters," says Hyers. "Consumers do not want to spend top dollar on a device when there are few usable networks yet. Operators must widen 5G availability significantly in order for the technology to become attractive for consumers."
The current 5G smartphone leader is Samsung. "Samsung has managed to take the lead in 5G predominantly due to strong sales in South Korea, as well as by expanding its share in 5G markets like the U.S., " says Ukonaho. "LG, Huawei, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi are also among the first vendors to the market.
But the firm believes that 2020 will be the turning point for 5G. "All major smartphone vendors including Apple are developing 5G handsets," says Hyers, "and will many more devices will launch in 2020."
5G smartphone sales will be led by China, the U.S., and other developed nations in Asia and Western Europe. Growth will be rapid once prices fall, predicts the firm, and 5G network buildouts expand next year.