5G devices accounted for less than one percent of 2019 smartphone sales

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Although it seems that 2020 is destined to be a big year for 5G smartphones, last year certainly wasn’t kind to the blossoming technology. A new report from NPD’s Mobile Phone Tracking service claims that just one percent of devices sold in 2019 were 5G products.

Fortunately, that low number is due to some well-known industry hurdles—namely price and lack of availability. As device manufacturers work to correct these issues, the number of 5G devices being sold will continue to grow.

A Look Back

Last year was really the first time that the majority of consumers could get their hands on a 5G smartphone. Even so, most opted not to. The few 5G phones that were for sale in 2019 either had a massive price tag or simply weren’t convincing enough for users to upgrade.

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It’s worth noting that the latter half of the year was far more positive than the early months. Companies like LG, Samsung, and OnePlus released their first 5G smartphones in the second half of 2019. Once they did so, the number of device sales increased about nine times compared to the first half of the year.

That’s a positive sign for the days to come. While looking at the statistics for the entire year certainly isn’t reassuring, the back half of 2019 proves that there is some demand for 5G smartphones.

Part of that demand is likely due to increased awareness of the technology.

An NPD survey showed that nearly 89 percent of consumers surveyed in the latter half of the year had some familiarity with 5G. That number reflects an increase from 73 percent of consumers surveyed at the beginning of the year. Moreover, 65 percent of individuals expressed an interest in buying a 5G phone.

For the 5G industry, these results are encouraging. It means that massive marketing campaigns from mobile carriers and device manufacturers alike are gaining traction with the majority of consumers as the world prepares to enter the age of 5G.

Future of 5G

Moving forward, device manufacturers won’t be able to rest just yet. It will take a continual effort to convince users to upgrade to a 5G device—especially while cheaper 4G devices are still on the market.

One way of accomplishing this is by expanding 5G coverage. If consumers are able to reliably and consistently access the fastest connectivity protocol they will be far more likely to purchase a 5G device. By the end of 2020, 5G coverage is projected to expand rapidly.

Meanwhile, low-cost 5G components from companies like Qualcomm are making it possible for device manufacturers to lower the prices of their latest smartphones into a reasonable range. This, along with the speculated release of Apple’s first 5G iPhone, will spur more consumers to upgrade.

At this point, it’s clear that 5G is the technology of the future. It is only a matter of time before the majority of consumers upgrade. The price of new devices and the availability of 5G networks will greatly impact how fast the transition occurs in 2020 and beyond.


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