5G is the next significant evolution in the mobile landscape, promising to deliver better and faster connectivity. The technology will also empower innovate variety of existing and new apps, including cloud gaming on the go.
Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report shows that there will be over 700 million 5G-ready smartphones active in the market this year (a market share of 16 percent), up from 206 million in 2020.
Despite pandemic-related setbacks in terms of 5G infrastructure and rollout, especially in emerging markets and in the West, manufacturers released an array of 5G-ready handsets last year. And consumers were eager to buy these models, completely shaking up our ranking of the top companies by 5G-ready devices.
Who is leading the 5G-ready pack? In this article, Newzoo will be looking at 5G-ready smartphones actively used in the market—in terms of general usage, not 5G usage.
Huawei overtakes Samsung as #1 manufacturer of 5g-ready smartphones
Huawei had an incredible 2020 in terms of its 5G-ready-smartphone sales. Owing to the success of devices such as the P40 series, the company became the 5G-ready market leader at the end of 2020. Huawei’s share of active 5G-ready devices skyrocketed from 8.6 percent in November to 27 percent in December:5G-ready smartphones.
Huawei’s home market, China, remains the leader in 5G device adoption; therefore, it’s no surprise that the company is also leading the market for 5G-ready smartphones.
But Huawei’s future position remains uncertain, owing to the U.S sanctions and the fact that it sold the Honor brand (reportedly based on sanctions situation). Soon after this sale, Honor began working with Qualcomm and MediaTek on 5G chips. Nevertheless, Huawei’s impressive market share as of December 2020 is undeniable.
Samsung falls to #2, but enjoys superior presence
Samsung was among the first major brands to push 5G in its flagship devices, with 2019’s Galaxy S10 series already offering 5G-readiness. This helped Samsung secure an early foothold in the 5G-ready-smartphone market, especially in its home market of South Korea. Newzoo’s Monthly Active Mobile Device Data shows that in December 2020:
- South Korea accounted for 21.8 percent of Samsung’s active 5G-ready smartphones.
- The U.S. accounted for 9.1 percent.
- And Russia accounted for 5.6 percent.
Samsung has since expanded 5G functionality to its non-flagship handsets, including devices in its Galaxy A series. As of December 2020, over 21.6 million active Galaxy A21 5G handsets were active worldwide, as shown in Monthly Active Mobile Device Data.
While newer entrants have taken much of the Korean tech giant’s share, Samsung still boasted a 5G-ready market share of 25.1 percent in December 2020. But its biggest competitor, the other half of the overall-smartphone-market duopoly, might be catching up.
Success of iPhone 12 in China Brought Apple into the Top 3 for 5G
In mid-October, Apple announced the iPhone 12 series, the first iPhones to support 5G connection thanks to their mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G compatibility.
Newzoo expected Apple’s foray into smartphones to significantly bolster the uptake of 5G-ready devices, and that’s exactly what happened. After just one flagship release, Apple is now the world’s #3 smartphone brand by 5G-ready devices, boasting a market share just shy of 20 percent in December 2020:
Apple also enjoyed its best-ever quarter by revenues in its fiscal Q1 2021. In a conference call, CEO Tim Cook revealed that China had a record number of iPhone upgraders during the quarter. Total revenues from Greater China hit $21.3 billion, up +57 percent from last year.
The iPhone 12’s 5G capability was—and continues to be—one of the major drivers for Chinese consumers upgrading their handsets; after all, the country quickly and effectively rolled out its 5G network infrastructure. This certainly bolstered Apple’s strong 5G-ready performance and is reflected in Active Mobile Device Data for December 2020:
– 29.5 percent of Apple’s active 5G-ready smartphones were in China
– 24.7 percent were in the U.S.
– And 8.7 percent were in Japan.
Newzoo expects that the iPhone 12 series drive will further 5G-ready adoption in Apple’s key markets (including China, Japan, and the U.S.) this year and beyond.
We also expect to see Chinese brands continuing to perform well in the 5G-ready-smartphone space, including Xiaomi and OPPO, who also saw market-share jumps in December 2020.
One thing is for sure: when infrastructure catches up and the pandemic subsides, consumers across the globe will be ready to take advantage of the next generation in mobile internet technology. But how can companies stay up to date with active (5G-ready) smartphones?
Newzoo clients who subscribe to Monthly Active Mobile Device Data include some of the world’s biggest tech giants—as well as leading app publishers that have underlined growth countries as a strategic priority. Others, closer to the telecom sector, ingest the data into their business intelligence (BI) platform, combining it with their shipping or sales data.
This article has been written by Amsterdam-based gaming market insights firm Newzoo.
S. Korean operators to share 5G networks in remote areas
South Korea’s three major mobile operators, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, have agreed to share their 5G networks in remote coastal and farm towns.
The initiative is designed to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks across the country, Yonhap news agency cited the Korean ICT Ministry as saying. The agreement signed by SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will enable 5G users to access 5G services regardless of their mobile operator in 131 remote locations across the country.
The ministry said telecom operators will test the network sharing system before the end of this year and aim for complete commercialization in phases by 2024.
The ministry noted that the selected remote regions are sparsely populated, with a population density of 92 people per square kilometer, compared with those without network sharing at 3,490 people per square kilometer.
1 million subscribers in 5g network
In addition, South Korea ended January with 12.87 million subscribers in the 5G segment after a net addition of almost 1 million subscribers in the first months of the year, Yonhap reported, citing data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.
As of February, the country had 13.66 million 5G subscriptions, accounting for 19 percent of its total mobile users. South Korea was the world’s first country to commercialize 5G in April 2019.
The big boost in 5G subscriptions during the first month of the year was due to the popularity of Samsung Electronics’ latest flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones, according to the report.
“Korean telcos are expecting a big surge in 5G adoption this year, with top wireless carrier SK Telecom aiming to have 9 million 5G users by the end of the year, and smaller rival LG Uplus targeting 4 million,” the ministry said.
SK Telecom added a total of 1.21 million 5G subscribers in the last quarter of 2020. For full 2020, SK Telecom saw the addition of 3.4 million subscribers in the 5G segment, according to previous reports.
Total mobile subscriptions in the Asian nation stood at 70.69 million at the end of January, with 4G subscriptions at 51.9 million, down 660,000 compared to December.
The move comes as the country races to establish nationwide 5G coverage, with network equipment currently installed in major cities.
The three telecom operators promised in July last year to invest up to 25.7 trillion won (US$23.02 billion) to update their network infrastructure by 2022.
Romania bans Huawei from its 5G efforts
The Romanian government approved on Thursday a United States-supported bill banning China and its mammoth telecoms vendor Huawei from participating in the country’s 5G development efforts, reported Reuters citing a member of the IT&C and National Security Committee.
Romania joins the likes of the U.S., UK, India, and Taiwan who consider Huawei to be persona non grata from their domestic 5G endeavors.
The 5G security concerns, which were ignited by the Trump administration’s trade spat with China, includes espionage, sabotage, and blackmail. The U.S. government considers Huawei as a security risk and has urged allies to shun its equipment over fears it could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services.
The consequences of the trade war have spilled over to Europe as it becomes the center of a technological race divided between Beijing and Washington. Earlier last year, Germany ruled to keep Huawei as a part of the country’s 5G future, delivering a diplomatic blow to the U.S., and favoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s close relations with China.
However, these tensions with the Chinese tech titan have proved beneficial for European rivals Ericsson and Nokia, who have stepped in markets that dumped Huawei.
The fifth generation of mobile networks is expected to become the de-facto telecoms infrastructure that will set the stage for a wide array of services and products such as autonomous vehicles and the fourth industrial revolution.
“The government just approved this bill of paramount importance for Romania, sealing a 2019 memorandum signed in Washington, meaning that China and Huawei are ruled out from any would-be partnership on 5G with the Romanian state,” Romanian MP Pavel Popescu told Reuters.
The August 2019 memorandum entailed that the move would be “as part of risk-based security approach, careful and complete evaluation of 5G vendors is necessary.”
Romania has always considered the United States as an important ally, even before the country joined NATO back in 2004. In parallel, Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations that it reports back to the Chinese state and has even filed multiple lawsuits in the U.S. courts to battle this claim.
“National security is a key goal and protecting Romania’s future generations’ personal data is crucial,” Popescu told Reuters.
The bill says a vendor’s evaluation should say whether a company is subject to control by a foreign government, has a transparent ownership structure, and is subject to a legal regime that enforces transparent corporate practices.
Popescu said the bill, which could be rubber-stamped in parliament in the next weeks, is a prerequisite to launching 5G tenders in the Black Sea state in second half of the year.
Cradlepoint intros 5G edge router for in-vehicle networks
Cradlepoint announced its new R1900 Ruggedized 5G edge Router, designed for in-vehicle networks such as first responders. The device comes with a Cradlepoint NetCloud subscription service that includes cloud-delivered software, endpoints, training and support.
The global leader in cloud-delivered LTE and 5G wireless network edge solutions, offers the router which is optimized for in-vehicle networks and offers superior ruggedness, performance, security, connectivity, and utility in a purpose-built, compact design. Again, Cradlepoint sets the bar for 5G edge solutions.
According to a recent IDC report, the market for enterprise LTE and 5G routers is exploding and forecast to reach close to $3B by 2024.
Importance of 5G edge
As 5G proliferates, enterprise and public sector organizations will take advantage of secure and fiber-fast 5G mobile networks to enable immersive applications for field force productivity and enhanced customer experiences.
“While others view 5G as a simple add-on to existing products, Cradlepoint has taken a clean-sheet-of-paper approach with the R1900,” Todd Krautkremer, chief marketing officer at Cradlepoint said.
“5G is more than just a faster pipe – it enables transformative applications that help mobile workforces be safer and more productive while delivering better customer experiences. However, achieving these benefits requires a 5G mobile router that is up to the task from a reliability, performance, connectivity, security, and edge computing standpoint, and the R1900 with NetCloud delivers on all of these attributes,” he added.
Cradlepoint is a first mover in the “5G for Business” market, shipping the industry’s first enterprise-class 5G product back in June 2020.
Second-generation 5G architecture
In addition, the R1900 is the first product to launch using its second-generation 5G architecture – most network vendors have not shipped their first 5G product. The company’s early 5G and long-standing mobile and IoT experience helped create a global mobile platform that supports the fiber-fast speeds and breadth of use cases enabled by 5G worldwide.
Ken Rehbehn, senior principal analyst at OMDIA says that “Mobile applications and use cases serving the requirements of public safety and enterprise organizations continue to expand, forcing an embrace of high-performance 5G mobile broadband services and edge computing.”
He added: “In-vehicle routers, such as Cradlepoint’s R1900, provide an ideal platform for tying remote workers to rich 5G-enabled cloud applications that boost mission capabilities, helping save lives and reduce property damage.”
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