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5G smartphone penetration to reach tipping point in 2025

As consumers adopt 5G smartphones to take advantage of high speeds and reduced latency of next-gen networks, hardware suppliers will need to build out new device capabilities to encourage consumers to upgrade regularly and avoid churn

A plethora of recent research has predicted continued and rapid growth for next-generation mobile networks across multiple industry areas, and now a study from Juniper Research is forecasting a corresponding boom in 5G‑compatible devices which will gain a majority share of smartphone sales revenue by 2025.

This means 5G smartphone revenue could reach $337bn by 2025, said the 5G Smartphones: Trends, regional analysis and market forecasts 2021-2026 report, up from $108bn in 2021.

The study predicted that successful handset suppliers would be those whose products include radios that are able to process large bandwidths and ultra-low latency to ensure that handset users are able to use cloud computing services efficiently, while remaining price competitive.

Drilling deeper, Juniper anticipated that increasing the availability of lower-tier 5G smartphones was a key driving force that has been and will be crucial to propagate 5G handset adoption in emerging markets. To that end, it said that by 2025, global Android smartphone prices would be 65% lower than global iOS smartphone prices.

It predicted that this lower average cost would lead to Android dominating 5G handset markets in regions such as Latin America, but by contrast, the enduring popularity of iOS devices in developed markets would make 40% of global 5G smartphone revenue attributable to North America and Europe by 2025.

Going forward, Juniper urged mobile handset makers to ensure hardware maximised the benefits of future mobile cloud computing solutions. It emphasised how mobile cloud computing enables service providers to offload intensive tasks to the cloud, freeing on-device resources for essential handset processes.

It also cautioned that long-term 5G smartphone shipment revenue would be limited by impending “right-to-repair” legislation in North America and Europe, as more handset users choose to repair older models rather than upgrade to newer generation devices.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Juniper report author Adam Wears said: “The effect of these [market forces] will not be felt initially, as consumers adopt 5G smartphones to leverage the high speeds and reduced latency of 5G networks. Hardware vendors must use this opportunity to build out new device capabilities to encourage consumers to continue regularly upgrading and avoid churn to competitors.”

The Juniper study is the latest in a line of predictions showing the impact 5G is already having on smartphone users worldwide. A study from Ericsson in May 2021 highlighted changing smartphone usage behaviour. One of these – and a detail that has been reported by other sources showing how remote workers have increasingly depended on their phones for connectivity – is that as many as one-fifth of 5G users are already reducing Wi-Fi use on their phones indoors because of the benefits of 5G mobile connectivity.

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