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5G Phones May Reach Indian Shores In H1

Indian consumers can expect to start buying the first set of 5G phones as early as in the first half of 2020, with some devices likely to be available in the first quarter, albeit at the higher end.

However, the government prepares to auction 5G spectrum only in the April-June quarter.

Research firm TechArc expects 15-18 models (excluding variants) to be introduced in India this year in the premium or luxe categories (priced above Rs 30,000) to start with.

International Data Corporation says due to the affordability factor, companies will come up with both 4G and 5G variants in 2020, while full-fledged sales of 5G phones will pick up only in 2021.

Chinese handset maker Xiaomi has said it will launch about 10 5G models globally. Realme, the newest entrant in India, will bring its first 5G flagship device in the first quarter.

Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and Samsung have stated their 5G timelines for 2020.

“We believe in 2020, brands will come up with 5G phones priced above $500 (Rs 35,800) along with their 4G variants, which will be cheaper by Rs 10,000. Only towards the beginning of 2021do we expect prices of 5G phones to fall below $300,” said Navkender Singh, research director at IDC India.

As per TechArc, 1.5 million 5G phones will be sold in India this year, about 1% of the country’s overall smartphone sales.

Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Micromax already sell 5G phones in the US, Australia and Europe. Mobile chipset makers Qualcomm (Snapdragon), MediaTek (Dimnesty), Samsung (Exynos) and Huawei (Kirin) are designing faster and more power-efficient processors to fulfil the low-latency promises of 5G technology.

OnePlus, which dominates India’s premium smartphone sales, has started exporting 5G smartphones on a pilot basis from the country. Qualcomm has reportedly said India will see 5G ready phones in the next two quarters.

Analysts said smartphone companies would want to be ready with devices well ahead of the 5G network rollouts by telcos. India plans to start 5G trials soon, ahead of the spectrum auction.

“We are not expecting any large scale commercialisation of 5G phones in 2020 because of the uncertainty around 5G network. It is difficult to say whether debt-laden telecom operators will be able to bid for highpriced 5G spectrum auction in 2020,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research. “However, once this happens, the prices of 5G models will fall faster than they did for their 4G or 3G counterparts.”

Indian mobile phone manufacturers are likely to be left further behind as the market moves to 5G, analysts said.

“With 5G coming, we might see the end of an era of Indian brands in smartphones,” said Faisal Kawoosa, founder of TechArc. “This is because of two reasons – they have zero acceptability in premium and luxe segments and they lack in technology and R&D capabilities.”―Newsfeed

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