U.S. consumers are buying 5G phones even if they don't have coverage yet

U.S. consumers are buying 5G phones even if they don't have coverage yet
With only a limited number of U.S. cities receiving 5G signals, sales of 5G handsets in May (the latest data available) were made in more than 10 markets according to Counterpoint Research. During that month, only Verizon was selling a 5G compatible handset and was offering service only in Chicago and Minneapolis. Counterpoint's Research Director Tom Kang said that sales of 5G handsets have been more widespread defying predictions of a concentrated market. He points out that some cities not covered by Verizon's 5G signals back in May were in the top ten while Minneapolis was not. The top city, with a 5.3% share, was Chicago.

Counterpoint Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne notes that many consumers are buying 5G phones in anticipation of coverage in their area. He points out that 85% of consumers are aware of 5G and Counterpoint estimates that more than 5 million 5G phones will be sold in the U.S. this year with 22 million sold globally. The U.S. will lead the way in such sales, predicts the research firm, with China second. Counterpoint added that sales of 5G phones would be 60% higher in the states this year had Apple offered an iPhone with support for the next generation of wireless connectivity. Such a device won't be released by Apple until next year, and as a result "In 2020, there will be an even greater acceleration in 5G smartphone sales due to 5G iPhones becoming available," says the research company.

5 million 5G phones are expected to be rung up in the states during 2019


Currently, 5G phones available in the U.S. include the LG V50 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Verizon's Motorola Moto Z3 and Moto Z4 can both access the carrier's 5G network with the use of the 5G Moto Mod attachment. Both phones and the Moto Mod are equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 modem chip, compatible only with mmWave 5G networks. Verizon plans on exclusively using this high-band spectrum which has the disadvantage of traveling shorter distances than low-band spectrum; it also does not penetrate buildings as well as airwaves in the lower frequency range. On the other hand, last week T-Mobile and Qualcomm announced the first successful 5G data call conducted over the carrier's low-frequency 600MHz spectrum. For the test, a Snapdragon X55 5G mobile chip was employed; unlike the X50, the newer component supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum. 


T-Mobile believes that if it can complete its merger with Sprint, it will be able to deploy the latter's mid-band 2.5GHz airwaves in conjunction with its own 600MHz spectrum and mmWave airwaves. This, T-Mobile says, will allow it to build out the first nationwide 5G network in the states. As part of the agreement it made to win FCC approval of its proposed merger with Sprint, T-Mobile promised that three years after the deal closes it will cover 97% of the U.S. (85% of rural areas) with low-band 5G coverage and have mid-band coverage available over 75% of the U.S. population. It also promised to freeze prices for three years following the closing of the deal.


5G download data speeds will be ten times faster than those experienced with 4G LTE. This will allow users to download a full-length movie on their phone in seconds rather than minutes. Just like 4G LTE helped create the rideshare industry with two billion-dollar companies (Uber and Lyft), 5G service, once nationwide, will lead to the creation of new businesses and services.

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15 Comments

1. j_grouchy

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 08, 2016

Unlike the move to 4G...this time around I don't really feel the urgency to get to 5G since the service I currently have really already gives me everything I need. For me, coverage, battery and chipset are the biggest limitations on phones right now.

2. Papa_Ji

Posts: 838; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

A mentally fit person will never spend 1000$ on undated tech. device....when he can get future proof latest tech. device for the same $$$.

3. User123456789

Posts: 818; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Many people buy now and end up with same phone for next 3 years.

9. iushnt

Posts: 3086; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

That’s what papa_ji meant.

10. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

I do buy an iPhone every year. The high resale value of it helps. My 4G is good enough for my need but will wait till apple makes one for me to get on board.

4. scarface21173

Posts: 658; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Its called future proofing yourself.

5. shnibz

Posts: 509; Member since: Sep 18, 2011

Because they're idiots

6. mudcat626

Posts: 224; Member since: Jul 13, 2016

It is a shame they are falling for the marketing from the cell companies. 5G won't be a real thing for another couple of years. Folks still have problem with 4G LTE being a thing......

7. cmdacos

Posts: 4100; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

If you are one to only replace your phone every 3 to 4 years and you live in one of the major cities kicking off 5g it makes sense

8. joey18

Posts: 666; Member since: Jul 20, 2010

stupid people

11. Polaris1983

Posts: 33; Member since: May 22, 2019

They want future proofing. I don't blame them if they want to offload apps to run on personal cloud based accounts and for gaming.,

12. mackan84

Posts: 375; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

I don’t find any other use case for 5G on a smartphone other then tethering it to another device.

13. poojarathod

Posts: 41; Member since: Mar 06, 2017

i really dont like this.

15. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I doubt it is the 5G branding that push these sales. Those buying those phones are the "newest and shiniest" type of owner, and these 5G branded phones are that. Most cell phone purchasers look for something specific: Camera, price, maybe a specific manufacturer, audio, gaming performance, something like that. These 5G phones are appealing to consumers on those basis. They just assume the network will work. Crap, most probably just assume the 5G is up and running.

16. sb311

Posts: 10; Member since: Aug 19, 2011

I personally upgraded from the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the LG V50, even though 5G is not available in my market currently. Reason being that I wanted the extra storage and improved battery that the v40 lacked.

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