Indians can start buying 5G phones by the first half of 2020, but they won’t be cheap
The first set of 5G phones should be up for grabs in the first half of 2020 but these will be the high-end smartphones
Indian smartphone buyers can expect to start buying the first lot of 5G phones by the first half of 2020. Some of the 5G-ready smartphones are expected to be available by the first quarter of this year, though these will be the high-end ones.
However, buyers have to keep in mind the fact that 5G spectrum auctions in the country will only happen in the April-June quarter.
Research firm TechArc is expecting 15 to 18 models and their variants to be introduced in the country this year and they will in all probabilities be in the premium category, ₹30,000 and above to start with.
According to the International Data Corporation companies will come up with both 4G and 5G variants in 2020 to deal with the affordability factor, while full-fledged sales of 5G phones will pick up only in 2021.
"We believe in 2020, brands will come up with 5G phones priced above $500 ( ₹35,800) along with their 4G variants, which will be cheaper by ₹10,000. Only towards the beginning of 2021 do we expect prices of 5G phones to fall below $300," said Navkender Singh, research director at IDC India.
TechArc says that 1.5 million 5G phones will be sold in India in 2020 which is about 1% of the country's overall smartphone sales.
The smartphone space is gearing up steadily for 5G. Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Micromax already sells 5G phones in the US, Australia and Europe. Mobile chip makers like Qualcomm (Snapdragon), MediaTek (Dimnesty), Samsung (Exynos) and Huawei (Kirin) are designing faster, more power-efficient processors to fulfil the low-latency promises of 5G technology.
OnePlus has started exporting 5G smartphones on a pilot basis from the country and Qualcomm has reportedly said that India will see 5G-ready phones in the next two quarters.
Analysts are of the opinion that smartphone companies in the country will want to be ready with 5G devices even before the 5G network rolls out. India also has plans to start 5G trials soon, ahead of the spectrum auction.
"We are not expecting any large scale commercialisation of 5G phones in 2020 because of the uncertainty around 5G network. It is difficult to say whether debt-laden telecom operators will be able to bid for highpriced 5G spectrum auction in 2020," said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research.
"However, once this happens, the prices of 5G models will fall faster than they did for their 4G or 3G counterparts," Shah added.
According to analysts, Indian mobile phone manufacturers "are likely to be left further behind as the market moves to 5G".
"With 5G coming, we might see the end of an era of Indian brands in smartphones. This is because of two reasons - they have zero acceptability in premium and luxe segments and they lack in technology and R&D capabilities," said Faisal Kawoosa, founder of TechArc.
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