Over 100 Million Global 5G Smartphone Shipments by 2021

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – April 16, 2018

According to the latest research from Counterpoint Research, 5G smartphone shipments are expected to grow 255% by 2021, almost reaching 110 million units. While we expect growth to be slow during the initial commercialization phase in 2019, there will be an uptick in sales, once countries shift from non-standalone to standalone 5G infrastructure.

5g Smartphone forecast 2018-2021Commenting on this important trend, Research Director Tom Kang, highlighted, “Growth in the early  commercial phase of 5G is expected to be low due to several factors. There are still forward looking 5G standards that are unconfirmed, creating uncertainty around product and service opportunities. We also expect 5G chips to have a higher price point which will initially drive the cost of devices up. 5G capable devices will be premium only in the beginning. Also only a handful of countries will be deploying the first 5G infrastructure.”

Adding to these findings, Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne, noted, “We are seeing some great initial developments happening in the USA, South Korea, China, and Japan and expect growth to be concentrated in these countries due to their big roll-out plans for 5G starting in 2019. Other countries, especially in Europe, are more likely to leapfrog to standalone 5G as they will want to wait for concrete business cases to arise, before fully committing to the transition.”

Commenting on the overall smartphone market, Research Director Peter Richardson added, “We expect the overall handset market to slow to a CAGR of 1-2% from 2018-2021 due to market saturation and product innovations that are not spurring growth. 5G devices will begin gaining in share in the market, but overall transition to 5G could be slow and steady. Once we establish better 5G business cases and infrastructure, the market will begin seeing higher sales overall.”

Market Highlights:

  • The global market for 5G smartphones sales is expected to grow 255% by 2021, almost reaching 110 million units.
  • USA, Korea, China, and Japan will be key markets for 5G infrastructure development and growth of smartphone sales.
  • However, key challenges still exist which limit the growth opportunity in the near term. Standalone 5G standardization will act as a catalyst for the market.
  • The overall global handset market is expected to slow to a CAGR of 1-2% from 2018-2021 due to market saturation, slowing upgrade cycles and limited product innovations that instill growth.

The comprehensive and in-depth ‘5G Ecosystem Update and Forecast 2018’ is available for purchase on our Insights portal ( Please feel free to reach out to us at press(at) for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press enquiries.

The Counterpoint’s ETO research for 5G smartphone sales is based on total shipments estimates based on company’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with distributor sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

Analyst Contacts:

Maurice Klaehne

Tom Kang

Peter Richardson

Counterpoint research is a young and fast growing research firm covering analysis of the tech industry. Coverage areas are connected devices, digital consumer goods, software & applications and other adjacent topics. We provide syndicated research reports as well as tailored. Our seminars and workshops for companies and institutions are popular and available on demand. Consulting and customized work on the above topics is provided for high precision projects.

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