Chinese vendors in August sold 291,000 5G phones or less than 1% of the country’s overall mobile phone shipments despite efforts to boost slowing smartphone sales by offering new, cutting-edge handsets.
Why it matters: The gloomy sales signal skepticism from Chinese consumers about pricey 5G handsets prior to widespread rollout of the next-generation networks.
- China’s three major carriers were granted commercial licenses for the next-generation wireless technology in June, but there has been no publicized launch date for 5G network services.
- A United States export ban on Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei, which is also a major 5G gear supplier for Chinese carriers, may delay 5G network rollouts.
Details: August smartphone shipments were down 5.3% year-on-year to 30.9 million units in China, according to a report by the China Academy for Information and Communications Technology.
- 4G phones remain the majority of the country’s mobile phone sales with 29.5 million units sold.
- Nine 5G smartphones went on sale in China in the first eight months of this year.
Context: Smartphone vendors are scrambling to offer handsets compatible with next-generation wireless networks amid a saturated and slowing smartphone market.
- Smartphone makers such as Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Samsung all have their 5G smartphone models on sale in the Chinese market.
- Relatively high prices for 5G handsets have also excluded many consumers. On the low end of the range, Vivo’s iQOO Pro 5G is priced at RMB 3,798 (around $534.8) while Samsung’s Note 10+ 5G is the most expensive at RMB 7,999 (around $1,126).
- Experts expect (in Chinese) that prices for 5G handsets be as low as RMB 1,000 by 2020.
- Sales for Apple’s iPhone 11 series soared in China after pre-orders opened on Friday despite the absence of a 5G-compatible version.