5G switches on at IFA

Hot topic among manufacturers.

With the many announcements being made at IFA regarding 5G, the future looks bright for a mobile phone category that had stalled.

IHS Markit senior research analyst – mobile handsets, Anna Ahrens (pictured) said that IFA was very important for the smartphone market, which is one of the most dynamic markets in the world right now in consumer electronics.

“5G is a big topic and we have seen very important announcements at IFA, which will drive 5G adoption in mobile devices,” she said.

Key announcements in Berlin included Samsung, which is including 5G in the mid-range of its phones – this is the first time that 5G has come to the mid-range.

“Initially, manufacturers put 5G chips exclusively in their flagship phones and now, following Qualcomm’s announcement at IFA, which is bringing the same 5G feature not only on its flagship phones, but also to phones in its 6 and 7 Series,” she said.

The first 5G network was introduced in Korea, followed by the US, and then Switzerland came on board. In Korea, there are already one million people with a 5G subscription, and the numbers are increasing very fast, since its introduction earlier this year. We estimate that 9.5 million 5G units will be sold this year globally, with more than 400 million units sold in 2023.

The biggest barrier to 5G, from an end user perspective, is the infrastructure at the moment, not the hardware of smartphones.

Ahrens said: “The infrastructure will come. In this case, we are speaking about the first hardware being ready for 5G before the infrastructure, which is the first time in the history of the infrastructure and smartphone relationship.

“For consumers, 5G brings a new experience, with higher screen resolutions, a lot of artificial intelligence and augmented reality – and gaming, in particular cloud gaming, is a big topic for 5G, due to the high speed and the amount of data that can be transferred very fast.”

Looking at other developments in the mobile space, Ahrens said: “Manufacturers are increasing the active area of the screen and new formats include foldable screens; Samsung, for example, launched a foldable screen, 5G smartphone at IFA. The foldable market will be challenging, primarily down to the price of the latest devices, but it also has some potential.

“At the price points that exist right now, it is difficult to achieve large numbers of sales. We are estimating 500,000 this year and we believe it will increase to about 40 million in 2024.

“5G will drive smartphone sales which are actually stagnating over the last few years.”

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