Mobile carriers have finally begun to offer 5G service after years of buildup and there are now several 5G smartphones available for purchase, but according to a new report from Canalys, 5G smartphone shipments won't overtake 4G until 2023.
According to the firm's projections, 1.9bn 5G smartphones will ship in the next five years and by 2023 they will make up 51.4 percent of global shipments.
Canalys expects shipments of 5G phones will hit 800m in 2023 with North America making up 18.8 percent of the market while greater China will account for 34 percent.
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China surpassed the US as the largest smartphone market back in 2011 and Canalys believes the country will continue to maintain its smartphone dominance in the years ahead.
China's unique position
Despite the fact that the Chinese economy has slowed in recent years and its high-end smartphone market is no longer what it used to be, the country is well-positioned to be a major player in the 5G race.
Vice president of mobility at Canalys, Nicole Peng explained why China has a leg up in the race to 5G, saying:
“There was a phenomenal amount of 5G discussion at this year’s MWC Shanghai, with Chinese 5G licenses granted a year earlier than planned. The role of the Chinese government and the well-orchestrated joint investments of operators and equipment suppliers were critical to this earlier commercial launch. 5G smartphones will see rapid adoption in China, thanks to a strong government technology roadmap and operators’ financial capabilities. China is also home to many major 5G equipment suppliers and smartphone vendors, which will be responsible for an aggressive marketing push over the next few years.”
Canalys Analyst Mo Jia explained how Chinese mobile carriers will aggressively target early adopters this year while Apple users will miss out, saying:
“China Mobile has the broadest 5G smartphone portfolio at launch. Given the government has just implemented the long-awaited mobile number portability policy, all three operators will be even more aggressive with promotions to target 5G early adopters and high-value customers later this year. Unsurprisingly, local Chinese brands, such as Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and ZTE, are 5G handset launch partners for the three operators, while Samsung will also use this window of opportunity to fight back in China. Yet Apple will miss out, leaving loyal iPhone users waiting another year, which might risk them switching to aggressive competitors.”