250M 5G Subscribers End 2020 150M Q3

230-250 million 5G yearend as phone prices fall to US$199-260.


5G subscriber numbers are exploding. 100-120 million 5G phones will sell in Q4, many of them Apples. Samsung is also selling 5G aggressively in Europe and the U.S. China will add at least 50 million. 70% of the phones selling in China are 5G and likely over 90% by mid-2021.

I’m reworking my 2021 & 2022 estimates, which were already among the highest in the world. Nearly half the phones sold in the US, UK, and Australia are iPhones, most of which will be 5G from now on.

As Chinese phone prices (US$199-260) reach the West, most people will choose to buy 5G. Apple is selling 5G at the same price as 4G. Other companies will bring down the premium and it will make sense for all but the poor to choose 5G.

See 5G Phones $199-260 including screenshots of phones on sale at jd.com.

“5G still doesn’t have any use cases,” writes top Wall Street analyst Craig Moffett. 5G is of almost no practical use today but most people keep phones for about 3 years.

2020 Q2Q3Q4 est
China72117170
Korea7.359.311
US5.58.526
Japan0.40.81.5
Taiwan0.7
Australia0.31
Europe625
Gulf1.53
Rest of world448
89.25147.4246.2
Source: Analysis Branch telecom

Analysis Branch and our reporting date back to 1999, when Dave Burstein started covering broadband from its very beginnings. Since then, we’ve had the chance to learn from hundreds of the best industry and academic leaders. Jennie Bourne and Dave have written two books, been quoted by the WSJ, NY Times, & Washington Post, spoken at Columbia University, chaired 8 conferences, and traveled the world looking for news.

Contact Dave Burstein 347-603-6442 (New York) Deadlines understood. Ask for background, short quotes, sources or whatever you need.

5G Phones: 2019 China $470-700 2020 West: $400-? 2020 China $300

Update Jan 10: Xiaomi is now shipping the US$285 Redmi K30 5G, months before that price was expected. Previously: Nine companies are competing in a 5G market that has room for 4 or 5. In 2020, the difference in 5G and 4G manufacturing costs will fall to US$15-35 per phone. 150 million 5G subscribers in China will drive economies of scale in 2020. See the chart of 5G phone prices at

Result: 5G phone prices are plummetting. That will continue and is central to any analysis of the 5G future.

Some implications:

There is a tipping point where the price difference is so modest, 5G is the right choice for anyone able to spend a few hundred dollars for a phone. 5G will cover half of China in 2020, much of Europe and the US 2021-2022.

If I were spending US$400 or more for a phone, I would buy a 5G model not likely to become obsolete soon, if prices had come down in my country. In China in 2020, most willing to pay $300 will go 5G. China Mobile is confident 150M of the ~400M phones sold in China in 2020 will be 5G.

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