5G Phones are Coming to India, But Where Is the Network?

Multiple brands are set to launch 5G phones in the country, but is it worth buying one without 5G network support?

Tech News
3 min read
5G network is yet to make its official debut in India, so what’s the point of having phones?

The 5G phone revolution has begun in India and brands are bringing in devices which support the latest network connectivity. However, the network meant to run on these devices is nowhere to be seen in the country.

Industry experts believe that for consumers to experience 5G on a mobile phone, we’ll have to wait till early 2022.

So why are brands launching 5G devices already when it isn’t going to change the speed at which you stream YouTube videos or download heavy files off the internet?

According to Faisal Kawoosa, Founder, TechARC, launching 5G phones is a process that aids the development of network testing for telecom operators. This ensures when the time arrives, the industry is prepared to meet the needs of the end user.

“Bringing 5G phones right now is good for telecom operators, who can test their network range and performance with the available hardware.” 
Faisal Kawoosa, Founder, TechARC
Madhav Sheth from Realme launching a 5G phone in India.
Madhav Sheth from Realme launching a 5G phone in India.
(Photo: The Quint)

Some might argue that without spectrum auction, availability of 5G for people is shrouded in uncertainty.

Building up the Excitement

Faisal feels that launching them at least two years before the network goes mainstream will ensure the prices of the devices will come down by the time 5G services are rolled out for the masses.

Realme X50 Pro is the first 5G phone in India.
Realme X50 Pro is the first 5G phone in India.
(Photo: The Quint)
Bringing 5G phones at Rs 37k right now ensures that in the next two years, when the technology becomes mainstream, phone brands will look to sell 5G phones priced between Rs 20k and 25k, allowing them to sell in large volumes. 
Faisal Kawoosa, Founder, TechARC

Interestingly, a few years back Xiaomi was the first in the country to offer 4G devices in India. And now, another Chinese brand (Realme) has taken the onus on itself to become the first to launch a 5G device. The planning is uncanny, but it’s unlikely that buyers are complaining when they can get the devices.

Does it Make Sense?

Apart from the missing 5G element on these devices, what’s the takeaway for the industry? Going by the history of various networks launching in the country, none of them sold in big numbers early on.

5G network will offer up to 3.45 Gbps download speeds.
5G network will offer up to 3.45 Gbps download speeds.
(Photo: The Quint)
Whenever a new connectivity network or ‘G’ has launched in India, phone makers didn’t sell more than 1.5 million units, either 3G or 4G. 
Faisal Kawoosa, Founder, TechARC

This was interesting to note because during its launch of the 5G phone on Monday, Realme pointed out that before the launch of 3G and 4G network in the country, manufacturers had already shipped 50 million and 35 million devices respectively into the market.

More importantly, people talk about phone brands merely future-proofing themselves with the devices, but does that stand on credible ground in this case as well?

Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India explained that 4K TVs launched in India much before the content was made available and he believes the same logic justifies the point of bringing 5G phones before the network gets rolling.

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