Global 5G smartphone sales surpassed the sale of 4G handsets for the first time in January, as per a report by market research firm Counterpoint Research. China contributed the lion’s share for the growth with 84 percent 5G penetration in the country, while North America and Western Europe also emerged as the major drivers of this growth with 5G smartphone penetration of 73 percent and 76 percent, respectively. Support for 5G technology by Chinese telecom operators, along with the supply of competitively priced 5G smartphones by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has fuelled the growth in China, notes the report. Apple, which started its 5G push with the iPhone 12 series, clocked an impressive sales share in North America and Western Europe during the period.

As per Counterpoint Research’s global monthly handset model sales tracker report, the sales penetration of 5G enabled smartphones reached 51 percent globally in January 2022, surpassing the sales of 4G smartphones for the first time. As mentioned, China had the highest 5G penetration in the world at 84 percent. Apple tops North America and Western Europe by holding a share of over 50 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The iPhone 13 series unveiled in 2021 is also thought to have accounted for the natural increase in 5G adoption in these regions. According to Counterpoint, these regions will continue to play a significant role in the growth of sales of 5G smartphones globally. The sale is expected to be driven by iOS users, who are looking to update their old iPhone models within the average replacement cycle of around four years.

The Counterpoint report attributes the surge in the sale of 5G smartphones to affordable chipsets offered by firms like Qualcomm and MediaTek. The price cut of the Android 5G smartphones accounted for one-fifth of the sales in January. Android 5G phones launched in the price range of $250-$400 (roughly between Rs. 18,900 to Rs. 30,000) are available in the $150-$250 (roughly between Rs. 11,300 and Rs. 18,900) price segment now.

The next-generation mobile network is expected to expand in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America by making 5G smartphones available in the sub-$150 (roughly Rs. 11,300) price segment. The segment is currently dominated by 4G. Counterpoint also expects that once the low-end 5G SoC comes down to sub-$20 (roughly Rs. 1,500), the market will see 5G smartphones in the budget segment.


Why is 5G taking so long? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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