As The Prices Of 5G Phones Remain High And Coverage Remains Sparse In The US, Domestic Adoption Of The Superfast Cell Technology Lags. China Is A Different Story However.

Data suggests China has outpaced US in 5G adoption

Blazing fast speeds. Near-instantaneous latency. The Internet of Things becoming the Internet of Everything. All of the major American telecom companies now offer limited 5G coverage and handset manufacturers have started releasing 5G enabled models, so will this be the year 5G adoption takes off?

Adoption of this new technology in the US, as estimated using M Science’s handset data, has appeared slow to start likely due to high-priced phones and limited coverage. Observed trends in China have been a different story in recent months, however.

M Science sales indicators of 5G phones have grown significantly since the October 31st launch of 5G availability in 50 Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and other major population centers.

M Science’s Senior Telecom and Handsets Analyst, Mark Bachmann, estimates that in each week in December, about 12 times more 5G enabled phones were sold in China compared to the US. In both markets however, it is still the early days, with 5G enabled phones representing single digit percentages of all phones sold according to M Science research.

Why have adoption rates been slower to rise in the US? One probable reason may be cost: of Samsung’s two 5G enable phones available in the US, the lowest priced option, a 256 GB S10 5G, has an MSRP of $1299 or $50 more than a comparable iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Compared to the five 5G enabled phones currently available in the US (Samsung S10 + Note10+ 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, and LG V50 ThinQ), the Chinese market currently has more than 15 options available. M Science research estimates show sales of 5G phones sold in China are largely dominated by Huawei’s offerings, which includes the more affordably priced Mate 20X available for several hundred dollars less than any US offering.

According to Senior Research Analyst Mark Bachman,

“Smartphones are proving to be the leading adoption indicator for the 5G revolution. By tracking 5G adoption at the SKU level, investors can be more informed when evaluating investments in handset OEMs, wireless carriers, and semiconductor device manufacturers”

For all the latest telecom, handsets, and semiconductors analysis and estimates, please reach out to insights@mscience.com to stay up to date on company- and industry-level trends.