While the country is still waiting to know which telecom operator will be offering 5G connectivity in the future, phone brands are already looking to shore up their product catalogue.
But with the 5G spectrum auction to telcos not expected before April, should buyers be excited about getting 5G phones? And how much will they cost? According to industry experts, quoted in this ET Tech piece, your wait for using 5G is going to be a long and expensive one.
To counter the higher cost of 5G devices in the short term, phone brands will be launching both 4G and 5G variants of their devices, costing above Rs 35,000. As pointed out by Navkender Singh, Research Director, IDC India, the 5G variants of these devices will be priced about Rs 10,000 more than the 4G model.
Singh believes that from early 2021 onwards the prices of 5G phones will come down to the $300 (Rs 21,000 approx) mark. Unlike the switch from 3G to 4G in the country, analysts expect phone makers to have their 5G-ready devices already selling in the market. This will ensure consumers have compatible hardware to support the next generation in connectivity when it rolls out.
According to TechArc, 1.5 million 5G phones are expected to be sold in the country this year, which is a fraction of the overall sales of smartphones.
Qualcomm is hopeful that within the next few quarters its partners will be able to offer 5G-ready phones in the country.
The likes of Vivo, Xiaomi, Realme and Oppo are expected to lead the line with their products. So, where does this leave the Indian brands?
“With 5G coming, we might see the end of an era of Indian brands in smartphones,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder, TechArc was quoted saying.
He says Indian brands have failed to succeed in the high-end segment. Their lack of R&D support has ensured their technology hasn’t kept up with the trends.
According to industry leaders, spectrum auction and pricing are two of the biggest concerns that need to be addressed for faster 5G roll-out. And even though, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Communications and IT has given assurances about changing its stance on 5G spectrum prices, the industry would now like some action to be taken.
However, while the spectrum auctions are likely to be done within the current financial year, as confirmed by Prasad, analysts don’t see major 5G movements happening in the country, at least for the next few years.
So it will be interesting to see whether consumers jump at the chance of buying expensive 5G phones, knowing that 5G networks aren’t going to be available anytime soon.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)