Over 5 Million 5G Smartphones Will Be Sold In The US This Year

5G smartphone availability has been limited. More device launches and carrier competition in H2 2019 will drive sales.

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July 3, 2019

Counterpoint Research estimates that US 5G smartphone sales will cross five million units in H2 2019 as carriers ramp up their 5G network and device portfolios. Global 5G smartphone sales will reach 22 million units in 2019, according to our estimates. Overall, the US will lead the market in terms of 5G smartphone sales, followed closely by China.

Speaking about US 5G smartphone sales, Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint Research said, “Current sales of 5G smartphones are limited as there are only two devices available, the LG V50 and the Samsung S10 5G. The mmWave supporting Samsung S10 5G was exclusive to Verizon until the end of June, but all major carriers have launched it now. We believe that H2 2019 will see a sharp increase in 5G smartphone sales as carriers expand their coverage and even more 5G devices launch. Expansion in mmWave capable devices will be key for growth as consumers will be able to see the dramatic speed increases over LTE.”

Except for Apple, all major OEMs such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and OnePlus will sell 5G smartphones in H2 2019. This will increase 5G smartphone penetration drastically as compared to H1 2019. Fieldhack added, “We believe Apple will not have a 5G capable iPhone available till 2020. If Apple had launched a 5G device this year, we believe that the US market size for 5G would have been at least 60% higher than the current estimate. In 2020, there will be an even greater acceleration in 5G smartphone sales due to 5G iPhones becoming available.”

Research Analyst, Maurice Klaehne said, “Initially it was thought that there would be a high concentration of 5G smartphone sales in areas where there is 5G coverage. However, our research indicates that 5G smartphones are being bought all over the country. This trend will likely increase as consumers want to buy the newest devices, future-proofing their purchase for the next several years. Promotions and marketing for these devices will also likely ramp up in H2 2019.”

Klaehne continued, “We saw this trend initially in Korea where sales of 5G smartphones crossed 1 million in just 70 days. It all started when every carrier had a 5G smartphone in their portfolio, and an all-out marketing war ensued. Subsidies for 5G devices went from ~US$250 to ~US$500 in a month, creating a hyper-subsidy environment. Consumers often chose to purchase a 5G device over 4G alternatives because they got it at a lower price point with better specs. We believe a similar trend will develop in the US.”

Elaborating on global 5G roll-out, Tom Kang, Research Director, added, “We are cautious on our forecast, but we think 5G will eventually have a faster roll-out than 4G LTE. Looking back at LTE, the network was split between FDD-LTE and TD-LTE, which resulted in a slower roll-out over two years. Only the US and Korea deployed LTE in the first six months. Europe and China started one year later. Globally, the ramp up will be faster because there is now a universal standard for 5G. Operators in the US, China, Europe, and Korea will all be launching within the same 12-month period. It is an unprecedented network deployment. This will drive global sales to 22 million by the end of 2019.”