Amid uncertainty, 5G phone sales to grow in India in 2021

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While the commercial roll-out of 5G is still some years away in India, smartphone sales are expected to grow exponentially in 2021 and this will be the first year when consumers will buy 5G smartphones by choice and maximize their returns on investments by future-proofing the expenditure, a new report said on Tuesday.

While consumers looking to buy a smartphone above Rs 25,000 (premium and luxe) category will prefer a 5G smartphone, consumers willing to spend lesser than this will not necessarily buy a 5G smartphone despite being made available by the OEMs, according to the report by Gurugram-based market research firm techARC.

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“This is because of the two reasons. Firstly, as we move along the mass markets in technology, we see lesser early adopters. Second, there is still apprehension about usage of 5G services,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.

The users fear investing in the first version of the technology and believe that the second generation is always stable and safe to invest as market feedback and tests will result in improvisations.

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“Looking at the present macro conditions of the telecom sector in India, it is unlikely that 5G services will be launched at affordable price plans. To recover the 5G investments, operators will have to price them at least 30-50 per cent more than the present 4G plans,” Kawoosa added.

While smartphone OEMs will ‘loud-speak’ about 5G smartphone launches, there will be periodic 4G smartphones launched as well.

Towards the second half of 2021, OEMs could launch more 4G smartphone models to boost the overall smartphone sales across mass and entry-level segments, the report mentioned.

Smartphone OEMs like OPPO and OnePlus have made specific steps to bolster their 5G initiatives in India, which will also serve global markets. Other major OEMs like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and realme have already launched their 5G portfolio in India.

“Both these developments have placed the smartphone industry in the anchoring spot driving the growth of 5G in India and ramping up its presence on the 5G map globally,” the report said.

Other enablers in the 5G ecosystem have also started their work on the ground, but the smartphone players have outshined others including telecom operators, equipment manufacturers as well as the policy makers.

This is going to be a major contribution of the smartphone OEMs in India’s journey towards 5G by building up an active subscriber base with a 5G compatible smartphone in their hands that encourages operators and others to pace up the activities, said the report.

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