It’s now safe to say that 2019 was the year that 5G came to life, with large scale 5G roll-out and plenty of 5G devices rushing to market, including 5G smartphones and plenty of customer-premises equipment (CPE).
The expected growth and expansion of telecommunications is in full swing courtesy of 5G, as is the redefining of industries such as automotive, entertainment, computing and manufacturing. All this, according to research firm IDTechEx, will push the 5G market to approximately $700 billion by 2030, with the main contributions coming from mobile services, fixed wireless services and narrow-band IoT.
All this being said, it was no surprise that the topic garnered a great deal of attention at IFA 2019 and Anna Ahrens, Senior Research Analyst, Mobile Handsets, IHS Markit most certainly had some interesting thoughts about the evolving market for 5G.
“IFA 2019 was very important for the smartphone market, which is one of the most dynamic markets in the world right now in consumer electronics,” she began. “5G is a big topic and we saw very important announcements at IFA, which will drive 5G adoption in mobile devices.”
Among the key announcements Ahrens cited were Samsung beginning to include 5G in the mid-range tier of their smartphone lines – which is the first time that 5G has come to the mid-range category.
“Initially, manufacturers put 5G chips exclusively in their flagship phones and now, following Qualcomm’s announcement at IFA, Samsung is bringing the same 5G feature, not only on its flagship phones, but also to phones in its 6 and 7 Series,” Ahrens noted.
Global Reach Enormous
With the first 5G network having been introduced in Korea, followed by the US, and then Switzerland, Ahrens also spoke about how 5G has continued to advance around the world.
“What is interesting about 5G in Europe is that the first phone Switzerland adopted for its 5G introduction was a Chinese manufacturer (Operino). Now we have tests across Europe. The UK has started with 5G and in Germany we now have several cities and areas that have started, and Finland, Ireland, Italy and Spain are also coming with 5G,” she said.
Ahrens added that there will be 20 operators offering 5G by the end of the year in Europe and in Korea, and there are already one million people with a 5G subscription, and the numbers are rising rapidly.
“We estimate that 9.5 million 5G units will be sold this year globally, with more than 400 million units sold in 2023,” she predicted.
With regard to potential barriers to 5G from an end user perspective, Ahrens explained, “The barrier is the infrastructure at the moment, not the hardware of smartphones. The infrastructure will come. In this case, we are speaking about the first hardware being ready for 5G before the infrastructure, which is the first time in the history of the infrastructure and smartphone relationship.”
For consumers, 5G brings a new experience, with higher screen resolutions, a lot of artificial intelligence and augmented reality – and gaming, in particular cloud gaming, is yet another big area for 5G, due to the high speed and the amount of data that can be transferred very fast.
On the Development Front
“Manufacturers are increasing the active area of the screen and new formats include foldable screens. Samsung, for example, launched a foldable screen, 5G smartphone at IFA. The foldable market will be challenging, primarily down to the price of the latest devices, but it also has some potential,” Ahrens said. “At the price points that exist right now, it is difficult to achieve large numbers of sales. We are estimating 500,000 this year and we believe it will increase to about 40 million in 2024. 5G will definitely drive smartphone sales.”
IFA Berlin is the largest consumer electronics trade fair in the world. Powered by Messe Berlin, the recent IFA Berlin 2019 welcomed more than 1,800 exhibitors and 250,000 visitors. Half of those were dedicated trade visitors looking to strengthen their professional networks and conduct business. Guests can expect to find presentations on emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence along with a diverse range of consumer electronics devices on display, including cutting-edge TV technologies, audio systems, appliances, VR and AR devices, smart home electronics, research equipment and much more. For more information on IFA Berlin 2020, running from September 4-9, 2020, and the two-day Shift Automotive conference click here.