GlobalData: expect a flood of 5G devices in 2020

5G networks have been launched, though uptake has been questionable, but this is set to change in 2020 according to research firm GlobalData.

One of the reasons for the sluggish uptake in the opening months might down to the unattractive native of geographical coverage, though it might also be attributed to the affordability of devices. GlobalData believes this aspect of the industry might be set to run wild over the coming months.

“In 2020, we will see manufacturers such as Lenovo and HMD in the US, along with Xiaomi and Oppo in Europe and Asia, hitting the market with lower-priced 5G smartphones in the $500-$700 range, with some even being offered for less than $500,” said Anisha Bhatia, Senior Device Analyst at GlobalData.

“As more devices become available across price tiers, 2020 will be the ramp-up year for 5G. Coverage will continue to grow across regions, and carriers will engage with partners to find ways to monetize 5G devices and services.”

As it stands, there isn’t a huge amount of choice available for the 5G enthusiast of today.

Device Price (rough estimate) USD
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G $1,240
LG V 50 ThinQ $1,152
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G $749
Samsung Galaxy A90 5G $810
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G $1,299
Oppo Reno 5G Ocean Green $1037
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G $840

Unfortunately, not all of these devices are available in every market, or through every telco. The choice for the consumer is rather limited.

This presents an unpleasant ‘chicken and egg’ situation for the 5G ecosystem. Device manufacturers will not go 100% unless there is genuine interest from consumers, who in turn might be waiting for the price to come down, 5G applications to appear or coverage to increase. The 5G applications will not increase unless there is an install base, and network deployment will be staggered unless the technology is embraced. Economies of scale cannot be achieved by the OEMs unless there is appetite from the rest of the ecosystem, but cheaper devices are needed for this to come true.

It is a mish-mass of complicated result-and-outcome knock-ons, but GlobalData anticipates the launch of several new devices over the course of 2020 which should be more palatable for the consumer’s wallet. This might well be the catalyst which drives excitement (and investment) throughout the rest of the ecosystem.

According to GlobalData, the launch of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 was a very important event this year. This chip, designed for mid-range devices, could enable the creation of new devices in the $500-700 range. These are still not cheap in comparison to what is available today, but it is a price point which is accessible to the mass market.

5G RAN market analysis has Huawei in the lead

Analyst outfit GlobalData has claimed the first competitive landscape assessment  of the 5G RAN vendor market, naming Huawei as the clear leader.

The methodology isn’t detailed, but it seems to consist of giving each of Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE marks out of five on the following criteria:

  • Baseband capacity
  • Radio unit portfolio
  • Installation ease
  • Technology evolution

Nobody scores less than three in any category but, as you can see from the table below, Huawei gets top marks across the board. GlobalData then aggregates those to make an aggregate score, with everyone getting four except Huawei on five. This seems a bit generous to Samsung and ZTE, both of whom averaged 3.5/5.

globaldata 5g

“The 5G RAN market is extremely competitive in these early stages,” said Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst at GlobalData. “Operators’ decisions today will direct the next decade of global telecom investment and ultimately usher in fundamental changes to the way we live and work in the 5G era.”

“The first wave of 5G RAN equipment, called ‘non-standalone 5G’ relies on existing 4G LTE infrastructure for some functions. So in the race to win 5G deals with operators, each vendor has a strong advantage with operators that already use their 4G gear.

“Standalone 5G, which requires a 5G core, will give vendors a better chance to penetrate new operator accounts and grow their global market share. We expect the standalone 5G RAN market to start ramping up in 2020.”

Conspicuously absent from all this analysis are geopolitical considerations. It’s all very well Huawei having the best offering, but if much of the western world won’t allow it to be involved in its 5G markets that doesn’t count for much. It’s also interesting to note that the report suggests Nokia’s radio unit portfolio is much better than Ericsson’s, which in turn is easier to install.