According to the latest research from Counterpoint, 5G smartphone shipments are expected to grow 255% by 2021, to almost 110 million units. Initial growth is expected to be slow but will accelerate once countries shift from non-standalone (using existing LTE networks) to standalone 5G infrastructure (new base stations, new backhaul mechanisms and a new core network).
- USA, Korea, China, and Japan will be key markets for 5G infrastructure development and growth of smartphone sales.
- Standalone 5G standardization will act as a catalyst for the market.
- The overall global handset market is expected to slow to 1-2% from 2018-2021 due to market saturation, slowing upgrade cycles and limited product innovations that instill growth.
We are seeing some great initial developments happening in the USA, South Korea, China, and Japan and expect growth to be concentrated in these countries due to their big roll-out plans for 5G starting in 2019. Other countries, especially in Europe, are more likely to leapfrog to standalone 5G as they will want to wait for concrete business cases to arise, before fully committing to the transition.