Smartphones capable of communicating with the fifth generation of mobile networks — powered by Android and other operating systems — will be far from ubiquitous in the immediate future and are only expected to reach widespread presence in 2021, DigiTimes reports, citing its own industry research. The same prediction is attached to other types of 5G-ready hardware like routers for fixed wireless access connectivity, though the first generation of such products will already begin shipping next year. Regardless, just over a million 5G-enabled devices are expected to ship throughout 2019, with that figure representing an insignificant share of the global smartphone market.
While hotspots and similar solutions certified for 5G connectivity will soon be a commercial reality, handsets will still be at the forefront of the end-user 5G revolution, with 97-percent of all 5G device shipments in 2022 being expected to amount to cellphones. By that point, 5G offerings will also account for some 18-percent of global smartphone shipments, as per the same report. The initial wave of 5G electronics will also require complicated manufacturing setups as it will have to be compatible with non-standalone solutions, meaning such products will have to be capable of seamlessly switching between 4G LTE connections and the new wireless standard. Once 5G networks become omnipresent, handsets designed for standalone 5G connectivity will become a viable and more cost-effective option for manufacturers.
The increase in the number of antennas necessary for 5G communications that will largely rely on short-range small cell stations is also expected to lead to an increase in power consumptions, forcing manufacturers to improve the battery technologies used by their smartphones, as well as their cooling solutions. Regardless, the first generation of 5G-ready handsets may offer worse battery life than what the latest LTE-rated handsets can deliver, as was the case with the jump from 3G to 4G. Samsung, Huawei, LG, Lenovo, OnePlus, and a wide variety of other handset makers all already vowed to deliver their first 5G-enabled Android smartphones next year.