2019 saw the first wave of 5G phones launch in various markets, with $1000+ options from the likes of Samsung and LG. But we also saw Xiaomi launch the Mi Mix 3 5G and Mi 9 Pro 5G, starting below $700.
Now with the second wave of 5G phones set for release this year, this got us thinking just how cheap 5G devices could be in 2020. We asked several tech companies at CES 2020 for their thoughts on the matter.
Arm vice-president of marketing Ian Smythe was hesitant to give out a specific figure or price bracket. But he suggests that 2020 will still be a year for manufacturers to market-test their 5G devices.
“But maybe I’ll be surprised. I’m always surprised by what the chip vendors do and what the OEMs push for. So the back-end of this year, we could see something that I have no knowledge of,” the Arm representative explained in an interview.
Smythe also reckons that we’ll see a bigger push towards integrated modems in 2021. This comes as the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung buck the trend and offer external modems for their flagship chipsets.
Vijay Nagarajan, vice-president of Broadcom’s mobile connectivity division, spoke from a personal perspective rather than as a company representative.
“I think people want to get it down to about $400. And I can see that happen, because given history and how various phone manufacturers have launched their phones (sic),” Nagarajan told Android Authority.
It’s a pretty safe bet, as we’ve seen the Mi 9 Pro 5G start at roughly $520, while Xiaomi’s brand-new Redmi K30 5G starts at just ~$285 in China. Xiaomi is one of the most aggressive players when it comes to device pricing though, and its phones aren’t readily available in North America. But hopefully the rest of the industry breaches the $400 barrier in markets like the US and Europe as well.
Yenchi Lee, MediaTek’s senior director for smartphone chipset product planning, says the cheapest 5G smartphones (from the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi) are already available for ~$450 and under right now.
“So I think the pricing in the device segment will gradually come down to maybe, as low as 2,000 yuan (~$291), maybe in the range of $250 to $300.”
The $250 to $300 is a sweet spot for volume-shifting mid-range phones, such as the Moto G7, the Redmi Note series, and Samsung’s Galaxy A50. So more 5G devices in this price bracket could result in 5G phone adoption skyrocketing in 2020.
The US chip designer is expected to power plenty of 5G phones in 2020, ranging from flagship devices to mid-range wares. So how low does it expect 5G phone pricing to go this year?
“I think the Xiaomi Redmi K30 5G smartphone priced at ~$285 is a good indication of Chinese OEMs driving down the price of 5G smartphones,” said Bassil Elkadi, 5G marketing director at Qualcomm, in an email to Android Authority.
“To that end, Qualcomm announced our plans to support 5G tech across Snapdragon tiers in 2020 — in our 800, 700 and 600 series of SoCs which should provide an indication of our plans to help drive mass adoptions in 2020 and beyond globally,” Elkadi explained, adding that it’s supporting both mmWave and sub-6Ghz flavors of 5G in its portfolio.
The US chip designer previously confirmed that devices based on the 5G-enabled Snapdragon 600 series will land in the second half of 2020. The 600 series is a mid-range family of chips, which means we should expect some cheap Qualcomm-powered 5G phones after June.
How much are you willing to pay for a 5G smartphone? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!