A Qualcomm senior manager has been widely quoted in the press this week that the first 5G capable smartphones could be arriving commercially as soon as mid-2019. Despite the progress Qualcomm is making with 5G technology Strategy Analytics Emerging Devices Service (EDS) service forecasts that the first real commercial devices are on track and arriving in 2020.
Qualcomm announced its first 5G capable modem in October 2016, the Snapdragon X50. The silicon is expected to be available for vendors by end of 2017 so they can start implementing it to devices. Tests with actual devices might start as soon as 2018. The first devices will be using 5G NR which is an intermediate version before the full standalone 5G. Strategy Analytics predicts that the smartphones arriving second half 2019 will be more for trialing purposes only to test the networks and the specification that are developing currently.
Qualcomm was first to the market with 5G capable modem but other vendors are not standing still either. Intel announced their modem at CES 2017 and Mediatek announced the co-operation with Nokia in the development of the 5G modem at MWC 2017.
It not until 2020 that 5G will really begin to motor. By this point, the technology will have been in development for several years, the specs will have been finalized, and network-spectrum for some countries will have been allotted. Attention for a commercial hard-launch will polarize around advanced operators in South Korea and the high-profile Tokyo Summer Olympics in this year.
Despite good progress in 5G technologies, Strategy Analytics sees 4G LTE being the main connectivity standard for majority of the handsets throughout our forecast period as the prices of LTE phones are coming down fast. The 4G will expand its reach from smartphones to featurephones already this year solidifying its presence as the main technology.
Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Strategies (EDS) service continues to follow the industry closely and will provide our client up to date analysis, insights and forecasts.