The shipment of 5G smartphones in South Korea is projected to top 10 million units this year, with a sharp sales increase expected in the current quarter. According to market tracker Counterpoint Research, sales of smartphones supporting 5G networks here are estimated to reach 10.3 million units this year, more than double from last year’s sales of 5.1 million units, the report stated.
South Korea rolled out the world’s first commercial 5G network in April 2019. The number of 5G subscribers in the country stood at 9.25 million as of the end of September, according to data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.
5G smartphone sales reached 5 million units in the first nine months of the year, but its sales are likely to pick up roughly with the release of Apple Inc.’s first 5G smartphone, the iPhone 12, the market researcher added.
5G smartphones accounted for 49 percent of the total smartphone sales in South Korea in the third quarter of the year, up 2 percentage points from a year earlier.
Counterpoint Research estimated that 5G smartphones sales will reach 16 million units next year, up 56 percent from this year.
“Local consumers were able to purchase Apple’s new smartphone model earlier than the usual schedule,” it said. “The release of budget 5G smartphone models from Samsung Electronics Co. is also positive and will help the 5G smartphone market grow faster through next year.”
South Koreans are extensive users of mobile phones – as of July 2020, around 99.9 percent of all South Koreans aged between 20 and 49 years old stated that they owned a smartphone. In this year, smartphone ownership was reportedly the highest in South Korea compared to all other advanced economies.
A survey conducted in 2019 showed that over 55 percent of consumers would not be willing to stop using their mobile phones at all, and smartphone overdependence has become increasingly evident among Korean consumers over the past years.
Although competition between Samsung, LG, and Apple in the smartphone sphere has historically been fierce, Samsung still led the 5G smartphone market in the country in 2020. In fact, most South Koreans prefer Samsung smartphones for personal use, followed by LG and Apple respectively. Although Apple has been gaining traction in this market, a recent survey showed a decrease in the usage of Apple’s iOS among South Korean smartphone users.
The future of mobile tech in South Korea shows no sign of slowing, with the launch of extremely fast 5G networks in April 2019. Counterpoint Research, however, said the global spread of the novel coronavirus could affect the expansion of the 5G market, adding that the fast recovery of mobile demand in the second half would be a key factor in the market’s growth.