World’s ‘Social Media Capital’ in Rapid 5G Transition

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing and tech-savvy nations in Southeast Asia. The country’s mobile connection penetration has reached 140% and most of the leading operators have launched 5G services. According to the Digital 2022 report, there were more than 92 million social media users at the start of 2022 and internet users aged 16 to 64 spent an average of 5 hours and 47 minutes on mobile internet every day. Thanks to this extraordinary social media usage, the country is also known as the “Social media capital of the world”. Not only this, online gaming too has strong traction among Filipinos with the mobile phone being the preferred device here.

With the launch of 5G services and their expanding coverage, consumers are increasingly opting for 5G smartphones. Smartphone players are offering discounts and launching affordable 5G smartphones to increase their shipments, whereas telcos are partnering with smartphone players to offer devices with various 5G plans. According to Counterpoint Research’s Monthly Philippines Channel Share Tracker, 5G smartphone shipments accounted for 27.3% of the overall smartphone shipments in Q1 2022.

5G Smartphone Share in Philippines Total Smartphone Shipments


Q1 2022 witnessed a growth of 20% points YoY  in 5G smartphone share in total smartphone shipments and we expect this share to continue to increase in the coming quarters. Key factors contributing to this growth include:

Increasing availability: Globe became the first player to launch 5G in Southeast Asia and the Philippines by introducing its ‘Globe At Home Air Fiber 5G’ plan. Smart followed suit and launched the ‘Smart Bro Home Wi-Fi 5G’ plan. Telcos started deploying 5G at a rapid pace and, according to VIAVI Solutions, the Philippines had 98 cities offering 5G services in 2021, ranking the country third in terms of the highest number of cities having 5G services.

Telcos’ initiatives and increase in investments: The Philippines’ top two telco players, Globe and Smart, are investing heavily in upgrading and expanding their networks. They are increasing 5G coverage and launching the services in remotest parts that were not connected by the internet earlier. Globe’s 5G coverage has reached 96% of the NCR region and 85% of key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. The operator is planning to invest PHP 89 billion to accelerate the 5G rollout, increase cell sites and upgrade the infrastructure. Smart is planning to spend PHP 85 billion to upgrade its 4G and 5G infrastructure. The third telco, Dito, has recently launched its 5G home Wi-Fi services in selected cities of the NCR region.

Favorable consumer behavior: Filipinos are technophiles. They actively use e-commerce, digital finance, digital and social marketing, social media and other platforms. With the increased speed, 5G can evolve online education, telemedicine, entertainment industry and more.

Although there are favorable dynamics in the market to support 5G smartphone and services uptake, there are also some challenges that can adversely impact the momentum:

Macroeconomic factors: The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing nations in the region. It saw a growth rate of 8.3% YoY in Q1 2022 as the opening of the market and increased consumer spending helped in increasing demand. But in recent times, it is facing the problem of rising inflation along with the weakening of the Peso and increasing interest rates. This might affect consumer spending and cause a slowdown in demand.

Speed issues: The Philippines is an archipelago with more than 7,000 islands. Therefore, providing fiber optic connectivity to every corner of the country becomes difficult. According to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, the Philippines ranked 88th (out of 139 countries) as of June 2022 with a median mobile download speed of 21.41 Mbps. It is behind many of its peers such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Low mobile network speeds hamper the internet experience. With most Filipinos spending a big amount of time on social media and mobile gaming, it is important to provide high-speed and reliable internet to encourage customers to adopt 5G.


The Philippines faces the issue of slow internet speed due to its geography, and telcos are trying to solve it with the help of the 5G network. They are increasing their investments in upgrading and expanding their 5G coverage. With increasing 5G availability, people are switching to 5G smartphones to experience it. Smartphone players are also launching affordable 5G devices, whose shipments continue to increase.  5G will help Filipinos have smooth social media and other digital experiences.

Another important area that will benefit from 5G is mobile gaming. 5G can help make the mobile gaming industry bigger, as it provides a lag-free experience with low latency and cloud-based multiplayer games can be played with ease. Smartphone makers can capitalize on this growing segment by launching dedicated gaming devices. Some OEMs are already sponsoring mobile gaming leagues and tournaments. Telcos can market 5G services that offer a smooth gaming experience on a smartphone and by hosting e-sports events.

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iPhone 12 Devices Top List of Best-selling 5G Smartphones in 3 out of 4 Key SEA Markets

Apple and OPPO’s 5G smartphones topped the best-selling 5G models’ lists in key Southeast Asian (SEA) countries in Q2 2021, according to Counterpoint Research’s Global Smartphone Channel Share Tracker. The aspirational value of Apple and the 5G factor of the iPhone 12 series helped the brand maintain its volumes in the second quarter. OPPO’s Reno 5G series has been performing well in most SEA countries owing to strategic marketing campaigns and consistent discount offers from the brand.

Commenting on the 5G status in the SEA, Senior Research Analyst Glen Cardoza said, “Q2 2021 saw the SEA region recuperate from COVID-19 before running into a fresh outbreak in Q3 2021. During this time, OEMs focused on 5G smartphone shipments. Besides, consistent efforts were made by governments and operators in these countries to grow their 5G infrastructure. Key brands like Samsung, OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi increased their 5G share and brought 5G models in the mid-tier as well. The iPhone 12 shipments saw a gradual dip but still managed to have a sizable portion in 5G, especially in markets like Thailand and Vietnam. Xiaomi’s increasing footprint in the SEA is being noticed by the competition and this will show in the 5G models being launched in the next few months. The coming months will see brands like realme push 5G ASPs lower.”

In 2021, all key countries in the SEA have been focused on developing and improving their 5G infrastructure:


Major operators like Telkomsel and Indosat have their 5G presence in the main cities while others are building on their capabilities as well. The coverage, however, will be limited in 2021. Current 5G networks are offered with 1.8GHz and 2.3GHz bands. Samsung and POCO are currently selling mid- to low-end 5G models while realme is making its mark with the realme 8 series. This country will see its most 5G volumes in the coming months due to the growing consumer base.


5G commercialization and adoption in Thailand has been the fastest in the region, with all 77 provinces being covered by 5G. Smart cities and industrial applications are being pursued. Apple has a much higher representation here, which boosts the 5G share even more. The launch of the iPhone 13 series will only motivate consumers to opt for the latest technology accompanying 5G. With a growing e-commerce footprint, even Tier II and Tier III towns are upgrading to 5G through brands like OPPO, Xiaomi and Samsung. Operators like AIS, TRUE and Dtac are also providing 5G smartphones through their packages.


A growing middle class even outside Metro Manila is increasing consumer interest in 5G. The country’s 5G commercialization is being led by main operators like Globe and Smart. OEMs like realme will lead the 5G charge here apart from strong contenders like Apple, OPPO and Samsung.


The government is eyeing both consumer and enterprise-level applications where 5G can play a pivotal role. Vietnamese consumers are also very inclined to adopt 5G. The country’s three major telecom operators – Viettel, NPT and MobiFone – have already started 5G trials in the country. Ericsson is working with the Vietnamese operators to build 5G infrastructure. The second half of 2021 may see the official launch of 5G services in Vietnam, though it may take a couple of years to have a countrywide 5G network.

Most SEA countries are currently reeling under high COVID-19 infection rates due to the Delta variant. Even while 5G technology is being given a push, lockdowns and other restrictions along with a sustained component shortage will have the most impact on 5G smartphone shipments. But irrespective of the overall volumes, we see the 5G proportion increasing for the region in the coming months.

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Philippines’ Third Operator Fights Odds to Expand Share

Telecom operator DITO, which has been brought in by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to challenge the duopoly of Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, claims to have covered 158 cities and municipalities in the country so far. The Philippines has 146 cities and 1,488 municipalities. Globe and Smart cover 95% and 93% of the country’s cities and municipalities, respectively. Considering that DITO, which is a joint venture between Udenna Group and China Telecom, saw its commercial launch in March this year with 15 pilot areas, its expansion can be termed as aggressive. In May this year, Duterte signed a law renewing DITO’s license,  for another 25 years from its expiry on April 24, 2023.

Mobile Subscribers Share in Philippines, Jun 2021

Counterpoint Research Mobile Subscribers Share in Philippines Jun 2021, DITO

With continuous lockdowns in multiple places, including the world’s longest lockdown, DITO is facing serious challenges in setting up its infrastructure. China Telecom has transferred some of its experienced manpower from China to help expand DITO’s network, while the local Udenna Group is helping with the funding besides guiding the China team.

DITO’s prepaid offers

After analyzing the market, DITO has launched attractive packages for consumers. To welcome new users, the operator is extending its P199 (roughly $4) prepaid offer until the end of September. The offer comes with 25GB of data, unlimited texts, 300 minutes of calls to other networks and unlimited DITO-to-DITO calls for 30 days. There is also a P99 ($2) offer that comes with 10GB of data for 30 days, unlimited DITO-to-DITO calls, 300 minutes of calls to other networks and unlimited SMS to all numbers.

Consumers who already have a DITO SIM card can subscribe to these plans using the DITO app. If the consumers don’t have a SIM card yet, they can buy it from the company’s e-shop or the official stores on Lazada and Shopee. With P199, the consumer can get 6GB with no expiry date when buying it via the Smart App portal.


DITO has a long way to go to close the gap with established rivals Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. However, it can be a disruptive competitor in the current market. Duterte too is keen to project DITO as one of his big achievements during the coming elections.

Around 30% of the mobile phone users in the Philippines are still on the 2G/3G network. Compared to Globe and Smart, DITO is starting with a 4G/5G network, which can prove to be an advantage in attracting 2G/3G users when combined with attractive offers.

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Philippines Smartphone Market Returns to Growth in Q2 2018

Huawei (404%) and vivo (106%) were the fastest growing brands in Philippines during the quarter. Huawei enters the top five smartphone brands for the first time.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – September 6th, 2018

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, the Philippines’ smartphone market recorded 9% growth YoY during Q2 2018. The smartphone market also returned to growth in Q2 2018, after weak smartphone sales during Q1 2018. Growth in the smartphone market was due to aggressive marketing, mostly from Chinese brands.  However, the overall handset market declined 6% YoY owing to a steep decline in the feature phone segment. During Q2 2018, 76% of the total handsets sold were smartphones.

Commenting on the findings, Associate Director, Tarun Pathak said, “The Philippines smartphone market increased primarily due to the aggressive approach by Chinese OEMs as well as seasonality factors. Chinese brands such as Oppo, vivo and Huawei, with their lean portfolio and focused marketing, have gained significant consumer mind share. However, Samsung and Cherry Mobile still have a very strong hold on the local market, especially in rural areas. Together, Chinese brands now account for around 45% of the Philippines smartphone market.”

Commenting on the pricing strategies, Research Analyst, Hanish Bhatia added, “The Sub-200 USD price band captured nearly 75% of the smartphone market during Q2 2018. This is the sweet spot for the market and key focus of leading brands. Local players such as Cherry Mobile and MyPhone are now solely targeting the sub-99 USD price segment, primarily due to the aggressive approach of Chinese OEMs in the mid-tier price segments.”

Exhibit 1: Philippines Smartphone Shipments Share by Brands

Source: Counterpoint Research: Quarterly Market Monitor Q2 2018

Market Summary (Q2 2018):

  • The smartphone segment contributed to almost 76% of total handset shipments during Q2 2018. The feature phone segment declined 35% YoY in Q2 2018, but still sells over one million handsets each quarter.
  • Samsung captured nearly one-fifth of the total smartphone market. The Galaxy J series continues to do well, contributing to over 68% of Samsung’s total shipments for the Philippines.
  • Cherry Mobile remains the second largest brand in the Philippines, driven by sales of its models like Flare J3 and S6.
  • The Chinese trio – vivo, Oppo and Huawei has gained significant market share over the last year. Vivo is riding high on the success of Y53 and Y71 at present. Meanwhile, Oppo is doing well with F7 and A83. Huawei’s Y6 and Nova Lite are also doing well in the market.
  • The Chinese onslaught has led to a significant decline of local brands such as MyPhone and Cloudfone
  • In case of Apple, it still remains an aspirational brand among consumers. Its market share declined to just 2% in Q2 2018, as compared to 5% during the same period in 2017.
  • On the operator side, both major telecom operators – Smart (PLDT) and Globe are aggressively deploying LTE base stations to enable 4G LTE connectivity to consumers across Philippines.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q2 2018 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. Please feel free to contact us at press(at) for further questions regarding our latest research, insights or press enquiries. The Market Monitor research is based on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

Analyst Contacts:
Tarun Pathak
+91 997-121-3665

Hanish Bhatia
+91 987-184-9857

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