5G smartphones are in for a period of absolutely explosive growth, new industry data suggests. According to a Tuesday forecast from Gartner, 5G-ready handsets will almost quadruple their footprint within the next three years.
The industry research doesn't refer to just smartphones but most conventional consumer electronics. Gartner expects 5G devices will be the only major mobile category to grow in the following 36 months.
Next-gen networking will actually be the main reason global smartphone shipments won't collapse by 2022, the report reads. More specifically, the expectation is that PCs, tablets, and handsets will stagnate during that period.
Gartner predicts 2020 will see minor recoveries across all observed product categories. The following year, on the other hand, will have an opposite effect on the industry, according to the same study.
It warrants reminding that Gartner's latest insights revolve around shipments, not sales. Regardless, device makers have been mostly successfully predicting consumer trends since the dawn of the smartphone era. In other words, these changes will likely proportionally influence global sales.
As for the details of this 5G smartphone growth forecast, things are even more clear-cut. Gartner estimates handsets with 5G support will account for 12% of worldwide phone shipments in 2020. Fast-forward two years, and that figure will grow to around 43%.
Therefore, it stands to reason at least every other smartphone assembled in 2023 will be 5G-enabled.
Explosive growth or not, remember: 5G's not here to replace 4G right now
Today's report further strengthens the already massive expectations surrounding 5G devices. Be that as it may, the next generation of wireless is still debuting with a B2B focus. Not to mention that 4G is here to stay for many more years, according to… well, pretty much everyone.
Sure, you can already take your pick of seminal 5G networks and compatible mobile phones in the U.S. Yet the largest adoption wave will only emerge with consumer-facing use cases.
Speaking in layman's terms, most smartphone users around the globe are still waiting for 5G to offer a palpable impact on their lives. As with every cutting-edge tech, today's early adopters of 5G are paying a premium for little more than bragging rights.
Gartner's newest growth forecast hence hinges on all those crazy throughput numbers transitioning to widely available apps and services. By the time that happens, 5G connectivity should also stop being synonymous with "expensive" in the context of handset features.
The said (in)accessibility shift is, fortunately, already happening. For example, Huawei's claiming it's on the verge of launching a budget 5G smartphone running Android. More importantly, it's far from the only manufacturer nearing that milestone.