The iPhones of Apple Inc. The mobile phone industry reached a milestone in January, when 5G-enabled mobile phones accounted for more than half of smartphone sales for the first time. High-tech phones made up 51% of units sold, according to Counterpoint Research data.
5G connectivity is seen as a major enabler of transformative technologies such as self-driving and factory automation, with China being among the most aggressive in expanding its availability.
China’s telecoms watchdog said the country will boost 5G coverage by adding 600,000 base stations this year, bringing the total to more than two million. The country also leads 5G phone sales for the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturers.
iPhones are leading the 5G race
The data showed that domestic brands Xiaomi Corp. And Oppo and Vivo have roughly 10% of global 5G sales, most of which came in China. Market leader Apple with 37% also cemented its strong position in the country.
Samsung Electronics Co. , which was the first to introduce 5G-compatible devices in 2019 and is still the world’s largest smartphone maker, is limited to a 12% share of the global 5G market due to its sluggish position in China.
Earlier this month, Apple launched a 5G model in its budget-friendly iPhone SE series, and lowered the entry price for a faster connection to $429. That’s nearly half the company’s average flagship device price and may help secure its leading sales position.
Apple bought Intel Corp.’s cellular modem unit for $1 billion in 2019 with the goal of building its own 5G chipset in the future. Qualcomm Inc. US chips have largely been designed to do this work so far, with Snapdragon systems that integrate processors and modems into a single unit.
– With help from Zhao Yuan.