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Budget 5G Smartphones are the New Battlegrounds for OEMs

T-Mobile Drives US 5G Competition in $100-$250 Price Band

T-Mobile is pushing the envelope when it comes to budget 5G smartphones ($100-$250 band) in the US. While both AT&T and Verizon are focused on upgrading their base with the latest premium 5G offerings, T-Mobile has moved in with its “5G for All” campaign and a promise to give free 5G smartphones to those looking to upgrade. Initially starting out with the Samsung A32 5G, T-Mobile recently changed the offer to the new OnePlus N200 5G, a $216 device. This was the first sub-$250 5G smartphone available on a carrier network.

More recently, T-Mobile announced another sub-$250 5G device in the form of the REVVL V+ 5G. The device, which will sell for $199.99 on both Metro and T-Mobile, is the fifth iteration of the REVVL smartphone line-up. Previously, REVVL phones have been manufactured by TCL and Motorola, but this time Wingtech will make the newest device for T-Mobile. Overall, when you look at 5G smartphones for under $300, the carrier now has five devices available at full retail, compared to only one each at AT&T (Samsung A32 5G) and Verizon (Motorola One 5G UW Ace).

Table 1: T-Mobile Sub-$300 5G Smartphones

T-Mobile 5G smartphones Sub $300

Budget 5G smartphones present a huge opportunity for OEMs

In 2020, budget smartphone sales made up around 20% of total sales. More importantly, it is not a price band that is solely dominated by Apple and Samsung, like in the premium $600 and above segments. Instead, OEMs such as Motorola, TCL/Alcatel and about-to-be-shut LG compete against Samsung for market share in this band. LG is leaving a sizeable market share up for grabs, and this is where a big opportunity lies for OEMs to gain both market share and mind share, especially related to 5G and its capabilities.

5G smartphones are becoming cheaper thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 480 5G and MediaTek’s Dimensity 700 5G SoCs. Both prepaid and postpaid service providers are eager to have more 5G smartphones in their portfolios, especially since they want customers to upgrade their plans to 5G. With more devices launching in H2 2021, we expect to see increased competition for 5G budget smartphone market share.

Maurice Klaehne is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based out of Boston, USA. He has spent more than five years working as a market researcher and strategy consultant heavily focused on emerging markets and uncovering new growth opportunities for his clients which include business service, CPG, healthcare, and life science companies. Maurice holds a Master’s in International Development and Management from Sweden’s Lund University, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development from Canada’s McGill University. He is a native German speaker and also speaks fluent French.

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