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5G smartphones: In 2 years, 70 per cent smartphone users may switch to 5G: Industry executives

India is set to become a 5G-first nation in just two years with more than 70% smartphone users expected to wield a 5G handset buoyed by falling prices and countrywide network coverage, industry executives said.

Top smartphone brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme and Samsung have set in motion plans to flood the India market with 5G smartphones at aggressive price-points.

Their partner retailers have unveiled a slew of price cuts and offers to quickly clear out 4G smartphone stocks to make way for the next-gen gizmos.

Industry body India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) estimates the country’s installed base of 5G phones to jump more than two-fold to around 500 million by December 2025 from around 150 million in end-December 2023, and make up over 70% of the total smartphones base.

“The growth will be driven by consumers demanding faster connectivity options, coupled with a gradual decrease in 5G smartphone prices, especially with models above Rs 13K and those below Rs 10K becoming predominantly 5G-enabled,” Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of ICEA, told ET.

Nationwide 5G rollouts by telcos and advent of companion devices and HD content too will help drive mass appetite for 5G smartphones, industry experts and handset market trackers said.The signals are already there. Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme and Samsung have dropped prices of their older 4G handsets as well as the 5G devices launched earlier this year. The price drops, effective December 1, indicate that brands want to clear stocks before the new year when the majority of their portfolio will shift to 5G.“We’ve already asked retailers to clear out 4G smartphones priced in the Rs 10K-20K range as top smartphone brands are coming up with 5G devices at aggressive prices this month and ensuring adequate supplies,” Kailash Lakhyani, chairman of All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA), told ET.

“With multiple 5G smartphones priced under Rs 15K launching this month, everyone is gearing up to clear 4G stocks,” he added.

At present, a paltry 1% of all sub-Rs 10K smartphones sold in India are 5G phones. But this number is estimated to rise sharply to 14% in 2024 and to 45% in 2025, as per Counterpoint Research estimates.

Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint, estimates that around 94% of all Rs 10-20K smartphones sold in India next calendar year will be 5G devices and that the share will rise to 99% in 2025. At present, 54% of smartphones sold in this price range are 5G devices.

Any sustained take-up of 5G smartphones though would entail a steady flow of gaming/OTT apps, high-definition interactive content such as reels that typically run on high-bandwidth networks, along with strong demand for cutting-edge companion devices such as smart glasses to AR/VR headsets, Pathak said.

CLSA estimates India’s installed base of smartphones (excluding second-hand and refurbished devices) to rise to 600 million, 695 million and 805 million, respectively, by March 2024, March 2025, and March 2026.

ICEA’s Mohindroo, on his part, estimates that by end-December 2025, India’s smartphone base will be over 700 million, of which around 500 million will be 5G devices.

Counterpoint Research pegs India’s current installed base of smartphones (including second-hand and refurbished devices) at around 680 million with 4G smartphones making up over 80% of this.


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