5G smartphone sales are expected to grab shockingly little market share this year

5G smartphone sales are expected to grab shockingly little market share this year
This is the Galaxy S10 5G that very few people will apparently buy

It feels like an exciting time to be alive and passionate about mobile technology, as innovative form factors and a new standard for cellular connectivity are widely expected to transform today's smartphone market in ways that were previously unimaginable. But this mobile industry revolution may take a little more time than we had hoped, given all the refinement work that still needs to be put into foldable devices and sluggish 5G network rollouts around the world.

While the global market is still eventually predicted to return to (relatively modest) growth, overall smartphone shipments could take another hit of 0.8 percent this year, according to the latest forward-looking report compiled by the International Data Corporation (IDC). That doesn't sound so bad, but if it pans out, it will translate into a decline of roughly 10 million units compared to 2018's total, which in turn was a whopping 60 million or so lower than the score registered in the previous year.

2019 would become the industry's third consecutive negative year, but perhaps most notably, the IDC expects 5G-enabled smartphones to account for a microscopic 0.5 percent share of the market's overall shipments of 1.39 billion units. While we've been repeatedly warned by industry experts and market researchers that 5G adoption will be slow out the gate, that's a shockingly low number by any standards.


We're merely talking about 6.7 million units here, even though around a dozen companies have already confirmed plans to launch 5G handsets over the next few months. It sounds like Apple may not have much to lose being a late adopter, although the market should grow steadily through 2023, when 5G shipment volumes are forecasted to exceed 400 million units, yielding 26 percent share. 

No words on when we might see 4G phones surrender their global crown to next-gen devices, but we assume that's going to take another few years at the very least. 



1. askarak

Posts: 23; Member since: Aug 25, 2015

they're likely underestimating the 2023 figure. 4G came out in 2010 and in 4 years there were hardly any smartphones without 4G. Similarly, first 5G phones come out in 2019 and by 2023 more than half will support the technology.

3. joshuaswingle

Posts: 596; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

Just because half of the models on sale support 5G doesn't mean half of all phones sold will have 5G. The bulk of smartphones sales come from cheaper devices, many of which will still not support 5G by 2023. Especially those designed specifically for developing markets where 5G isn't yet accessible.

12. TheOracle1

Posts: 2264; Member since: May 04, 2015

That's right Joshua. In addition 4G has about a 60% penetration worldwide now. 3G/H+ still rules overall. But my main question is what exactly does 5G offer that gigabit wifi doesn't already have? How does it become a game changer beyond enhanced mobile speeds? Wifi is almost everywhere these days.

2. midan

Posts: 2884; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

I still have no idea why almost anyone should be interested about 5G on their phone in many years and especially paying more to using it. Tech that hardly no-one have asked. It's going to be very hard thing to sell to people.

4. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

I’m always on WiFi. The only time I’m not is traveling to work and when I go out to do groceries. I don’t want or need to pay more for a service that’ll I’ll barely use. I’m sure it’ll be nice to use but I don’t see the big deal.

5. GoTstan

Posts: 386; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

LTE is going to be the way to go for the next 2yrs I'd say, by then 5g will have found its groove

6. Whitedot

Posts: 811; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

I don't see myself paying anything extra for 5g. Feature that neither was desired by consumer nor missed.

7. scarface21173

Posts: 690; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Lets be sensible here 5G phones will not be cheap this year maybe cheapest $1000. I agree they wont sell many this year for that reason only price.

8. Vancetastic

Posts: 1320; Member since: May 17, 2017

I don’t see anything shocking about this.

9. bucknassty

Posts: 1338; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

yeah... not sure why people would go out of their way to pay extra for something they most likely wont be able to use...

11. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

That settles it: Apple will definitely do anything to get into a market that is going to be no larger than 50 mil devices next year...

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