What happened: A report by research firm Canalys said 5G-enabled handsets will reach nearly 800 million units in 2023, accounting for 51.4% of all smartphone shipments. Greater China, which includes mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, will account for 34.0% of 5G smartphone shipments in 2023, followed by North America at 18.8%. Additionally, 17.5% of smartphones shipped in China will be 5G-capable by 2020, and this percentage will rise sharply to 62.7% in 2023. Canalys said government initiatives to accelerate 5G development are a powerful driver for faster roll-out in markets such as China and the US.
Why it’s important: Following South Korea, the US, Australia, and the UK, China is expected to begin commercial use of 5G nationwide on October 1. Earlier this month, China’s three major state-owned carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom were granted commercial 5G licenses by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Top smartphone makers including Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oneplus have already announced that their 5G handsets will be ready for consumers in 2019, and Apple’s 5G-enabled iPhone is expected to launch in 2020.