According to Ken Hyers at Strategy Analytics, 3.4 million 5G phones shipped in Q1 in the U.S. and 2.7 million in Q2. Stores were closed and promotion limited. Some of the 6.1 million shipped were in transit or store inventory, hence the total of 5-6 million plus (modest) carryover from 2019. Update August 10 M Science released a lower estimate of 5G phone sales and I have reduced my U.S. Q2 figure to 4-5 million.
Most were expensive Samsung phones. SA gets information directly from the makers and has proven reliable in the past.
I expect far more than 2.7 million in the next two quarters. The 5G iPhone is in limited production, with an announcement expected in September. Hans Vestberg at Verizon expects large sales of the iPhone 5G, although there are rumors of limited production this year.
Phone prices are down to US$230-270 in China and 400 euros for decent models. (6.5″, three cameras, …) Nearly none of those models are available in the U.S. The cheapest 5G phone at Amazon was the Nubia gaming phone at US$629, made by ZTE. Nothing else was less than US$800. It’s less than US$2 to airfreight a phone to the U.S., so inevitably less expensive units will reach us. They may not access Verizon’s mmWave service, but mmWave connected only 0,4% of the time per Open Signal.
Sasha Sagan at PCMAG is enthusiastic about the OnePlus Nord, becoming widely available in Europe for 400 euros. He tweets “The @OnePlus Nord is an amazing midrange phone which fills me with rage that we don’t get these kinds of options in the US.” I’m sure we’ll see similar by September, driving up 5G sales.
In addition, both real and faux 5G networks are deploying rapidly. AT&T just announced they cover about half of the country with low-band, with speeds lower than decent 4G. T-Mobile has done similar. Verizon promised low-band to half the country by June although it is behind schedule. Verizon continues to refuse data on 5G coverage, except for the meaningless count of cities.
More significant, T-Mobile is rapidly building 5G midband in the Sprint 2.5 GHz golden spectrum. Neville Ray says the average speed is over 300 Mbps down as the network is almost unloaded. Nothing’s official, but T-Mobile is likely to cover 20% of the U.S. with mid-band very soon and 50-80% next year.
Verizon is building 4G/5G very widely in the shared CBRS spectrum, which it will supplement with dedicated 3.5 GHz spectrum after the auction is concluded.