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Global cumulative shipments of 5G smartphones reached 2 billion units in the fourth quarter of 2023 (Q4 2023) with Apple and Samsung as the top performers in this market, a report has said. Analysts attributed this rapid growth to improved affordability and accessibility of 5G smartphones.
According to a report by Counterpoint Research, nearly 70% of all 5G shipments came from developed smartphone markets such as China, US and Western Europe.Apple and Samsung cumulatively shipped over 1 billion units.
The market research firm attributed this trend to smartphone brands’ heavy promotion of 5G capabilities and features to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.
“The launch of the first 5G-capable iPhone 12 series in 2020 significantly boosted adoption, pushing global shipments above 100 million units for the first time in a single quarter,” the report said. The momentum continued and the shipments hit a new record in Q4 2023, reaching 200 million units in a single quarter.
Why this is significant
This development is significant because the milestone was achieved in less than five years, a faster pace than previous technologies like 4G and 3G. In comparison, it took 4G smartphones six years to reach the same level of adoption, the report said.
The narrowing price gap between 5G and 4G chipsets, combined with strategic component selection by manufacturers, helped maintain production costs.
“Besides, chipset players such as MediaTek and Qualcomm have helped smartphone OEMs to offer affordable 5G phones by launching entry-level 5G chipsets. All this has allowed OEMs, especially Chinese brands, to offer a wider 5G smartphone portfolio, particularly in mid and mid-to-high segments,” the report noted.
Analysts believe 5G smartphones are well-positioned to penetrate affordable segments in emerging markets like India and Southeast Asia, driving the next billion in shipments.
“Developed markets are nearing saturation, with the contribution of 5G smartphones to the total shipments crossing 80% in 2023 led by the premium segment. Therefore, major smartphone players are introducing 5G capability as a common feature in their mid-range devices while introducing it in affordable segments,” the report said.

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