Apple kickstarted 5G and now 2 billion smartphones have it

Posted:
in iPhone

The worldwide total sales of 5G smartphones has now exceeded 2 billion, spearheaded by Apple's iPhone 12 and newer models.

Smartphone with 5G logo on screen connected to a charging cable against a light background.
Apple introduced 5G with the iPhone 12 in 2020



The iPhone 12 was Apple's first 5G smartphone and despite it launching late in October 2020, its high sales made it the world's most popular 5G phone within two weeks. Immediately dominating 5G sales, it also drove the market to 5G, according to Counterpoint Research.

New figures from Counterpoint say that worldwide 5G sales have now exceeded 2 billion, and done so a year faster than it took 4G.

"The launch of the iPhone 12 series, the first 5G-capable iPhones, significantly accelerated 5G adoption," says the research firm, "taking global 5G shipments to above 100 million units in a single quarter for the first time in Q4 2020."

"The momentum continued and the shipments hit a new record in Q4 2023," says Counterpoint, "reaching 200 million units in a single quarter."

Apple and Samsung are the most popular 5G brands, continues the report, with the two companies together selling one billion units. Counterpoint notes that a narrowing price gap between 4G and 5G components is bringing the technology to lower-price models, which is benefiting major Chinese brands.

Penetration of 5G across the world (Source: Counterpoint)
Penetration of 5G across the world (Source: Counterpoint)



In China, Japan, the US and across most of Europe, over 80% of smartphones shipped in 2023 were 5G. Counterpoint says 5G penetration is 50% or more in 40 countries, while only 13 such as Nigeria and Paraguay have under 20% of sales on 5G.

Sales are not necessarily tied to countries where 5G is available or common, however. "Even in markets where 5G networks are not fully operational," says Counterpoint, "consumers opt for 5G smartphones to future-proof their investment."

All of Apple's iPhones use a 5G modem made by Qualcomm. However, Apple has been working for years on developing its own 5G chipset, despite reportedly having difficulties with the project.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 31
    5G was in place before apple stepped in. In fact, they were one of the last adapters. The technology has evolved over time, making other protocols obsolete
    sflagelwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamcropr
  • Reply 3 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 2,533member
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I can't say that I've ever noticed 5G on my iPhone either. I'm also perfectly fine with my 4G speeds and wonder if 5G would even affect the overall speed of the services/app/websites I use.
    watto_cobranubusking editor the gratejony0
  • Reply 4 of 31
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I have an iPhone 12 Pro I received shortly after it was launched. I have never had a 5G cellular plan so I’m still on LTE. Despite all the comments on this forum where people absolutely insisted that 5G on a cell phone would change everything I’ve still yet to know anyone that is amazed at all the things their 5G phone can do that their previous phone couldn’t. I haven’t heard anyone comment that they would never go back after the 5G upgrade. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone ever comment on their 5G, other than on forums like this one. 

    So, I’m one of those people that has a 5G capable phone but so far my life doesn’t seem appreciably worse than someone who is actually on a 5G network. 
    watto_cobraking editor the gratejony0
  • Reply 5 of 31
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,124member
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I have an iPhone 12 Pro I received shortly after it was launched. I have never had a 5G cellular plan so I’m still on LTE. Despite all the comments on this forum where people absolutely insisted that 5G on a cell phone would change everything I’ve still yet to know anyone that is amazed at all the things their 5G phone can do that their previous phone couldn’t. I haven’t heard anyone comment that they would never go back after the 5G upgrade. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone ever comment on their 5G, other than on forums like this one. 

    So, I’m one of those people that has a 5G capable phone but so far my life doesn’t seem appreciably worse than someone who is actually on a 5G network. 
    5G for phones as we currently use it isn't much more than a higher upload and download speed. It's nice, but not game changing.

    5G has other modes, shorter range at higher frequency, which could be very useful for self driving cars communicating with each other and things like that.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 31
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere. It is as fast as my home broadband at around 250 Mbps (not now, because it's raining). I think I do notice when I am in a 4G environment (I don't know what LTE is), but it could be my imagination; but 5G makes working over the iPhone hotspot really flawless so I don't have to use public WiFi, and when my broadband is down, which it happens often because I use Virgin, I can also watch a 4K movie over the hotspot. I think there are benefits.
    edited February 23 ForumPostwatto_cobraking editor the grate
  • Reply 7 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,655member
    I wouldn't say Apple kickstarted 5G sales.

    This is what Counterpoint said back in 2022:

    "After Apple shifted to 5G in October 2020 with the iPhone 12 Series, North America and Western Europe saw a natural increase in the sales"

    https://www.counterpointresearch.com/insights/global-5g-smartphone-sales-penetration-surpassed-4g-first-time-january-2022/

    As can be seen from the graph in that article there was a notable percentage jump in late 2020. That jump was an industry jump and included all other handset makers too and then leveled off and returned to showing a steady rise of 5G handset sales over time. 

    The real 'kickstart' happened from 2019 (under 20 million unit sales) to 2020 (almost 214 million sales) thanks to Huawei, Qualcomm, Mediatek and Samsung. 

    Globally, around around 1.38 billion smartphones were sold in 2020 (of which iPhones represented around 80 million for Q420). And of course, not all those 80 million iPhones [Statista] were 5G iPhones as the iPhone 12 wasn't the only phone in the lineup during 2020. 

    And the 5G modems on those iPhones were from the previous Qualcomm generation too and 'bolted on' (not on-SoC). They weren't representive of then bleeding edge 5G modems for most of 2021.

    Also of note around the time was the impact of sanctions on Huawei's 5G options. Around the time, Huawei was one of the world's leading handset makers.

    Also affecting the wider sales figures for 2020 were pandemic related issues.

    Faster speeds are obviously a reality but also the capacity to cater to more users at those speeds is a necessity many people will never see. 

    If I'm watching YouTube over a sketchy stretch of rail (going through long tunnels) 5G allows for the app to preload enough of the stream to be able to watch without interruptions. My bank (probably all banks here) make use of 5G network slicing in combination with carriers to improve security so I always use 5G and 5G took about a year to reach my home. 4G took around 5 years to get to me and then I had to wait more for 4.5G.
    sflagelcropr
  • Reply 8 of 31
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,327member
    5G was in place before apple stepped in. In fact, they were one of the last adapters. The technology has evolved over time, making other protocols obsolete
    Yeah, Apple came in a year after the first models from Android OEM's appeared, and then proceeded to shift the largest share of 5G models, completing the transition to all 5G faster than any other smartphone manufacturer.

    The benefit of only having a very few models.
    edited February 23 ForumPostwilliamlondonwatto_cobraStrangeDaysrob53jony0
  • Reply 9 of 31
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,327member
    avon b7 said:
    I wouldn't say Apple kickstarted 5G sales.

    This is what Counterpoint said back in 2022:

    "After Apple shifted to 5G in October 2020 with the iPhone 12 Series, North America and Western Europe saw a natural increase in the sales"

    https://www.counterpointresearch.com/insights/global-5g-smartphone-sales-penetration-surpassed-4g-first-time-january-2022/

    As can be seen from the graph in that article there was a notable percentage jump in late 2020. That jump was an industry jump and included all other handset makers too and then leveled off and returned to showing a steady rise of 5G handset sales over time. 

    The real 'kickstart' happened from 2019 (under 20 million unit sales) to 2020 (almost 214 million sales) thanks to Huawei, Qualcomm, Mediatek and Samsung. 

    Globally, around around 1.38 billion smartphones were sold in 2020 (of which iPhones represented around 80 million for Q420). And of course, not all those 80 million iPhones [Statista] were 5G iPhones as the iPhone 12 wasn't the only phone in the lineup during 2020. 

    And the 5G modems on those iPhones were from the previous Qualcomm generation too and 'bolted on' (not on-SoC). They weren't representive of then bleeding edge 5G modems for most of 2021.

    Also of note around the time was the impact of sanctions on Huawei's 5G options. Around the time, Huawei was one of the world's leading handset makers.

    Also affecting the wider sales figures for 2020 were pandemic related issues.

    Faster speeds are obviously a reality but also the capacity to cater to more users at those speeds is a necessity many people will never see. 

    If I'm watching YouTube over a sketchy stretch of rail (going through long tunnels) 5G allows for the app to preload enough of the stream to be able to watch without interruptions. My bank (probably all banks here) make use of 5G network slicing in combination with carriers to improve security so I always use 5G and 5G took about a year to reach my home. 4G took around 5 years to get to me and then I had to wait more for 4.5G.
    LOL!

    You try so hard to avoid acknowledging the obvious.

    Easy math. 

    For FY 2021, Apple sold 234 m iPhones. Historically, 70 percent of those were new models, in this case with 5G.

    Looks to me like Apple sold around 164 m 5G iPhones in FY2021.

    Apple sold 80 million iPhones in the 4th quarter of 2020 (Apple's FY2021 Q1). Of those you would expect something above 56m iPhone 5g. Given that Apple sold 56 million of those 214 million that year, I'd guess that Apple sold more 5G than anyone else in 2020. 

    No other manufacturer was even close.
    edited February 23 ForumPostwilliamlondonwatto_cobraStrangeDaysrob53
  • Reply 10 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,655member
    tmay said:
    avon b7 said:
    I wouldn't say Apple kickstarted 5G sales.

    This is what Counterpoint said back in 2022:

    "After Apple shifted to 5G in October 2020 with the iPhone 12 Series, North America and Western Europe saw a natural increase in the sales"

    https://www.counterpointresearch.com/insights/global-5g-smartphone-sales-penetration-surpassed-4g-first-time-january-2022/

    As can be seen from the graph in that article there was a notable percentage jump in late 2020. That jump was an industry jump and included all other handset makers too and then leveled off and returned to showing a steady rise of 5G handset sales over time. 

    The real 'kickstart' happened from 2019 (under 20 million unit sales) to 2020 (almost 214 million sales) thanks to Huawei, Qualcomm, Mediatek and Samsung. 

    Globally, around around 1.38 billion smartphones were sold in 2020 (of which iPhones represented around 80 million for Q420). And of course, not all those 80 million iPhones [Statista] were 5G iPhones as the iPhone 12 wasn't the only phone in the lineup during 2020. 

    And the 5G modems on those iPhones were from the previous Qualcomm generation too and 'bolted on' (not on-SoC). They weren't representive of then bleeding edge 5G modems for most of 2021.

    Also of note around the time was the impact of sanctions on Huawei's 5G options. Around the time, Huawei was one of the world's leading handset makers.

    Also affecting the wider sales figures for 2020 were pandemic related issues.

    Faster speeds are obviously a reality but also the capacity to cater to more users at those speeds is a necessity many people will never see. 

    If I'm watching YouTube over a sketchy stretch of rail (going through long tunnels) 5G allows for the app to preload enough of the stream to be able to watch without interruptions. My bank (probably all banks here) make use of 5G network slicing in combination with carriers to improve security so I always use 5G and 5G took about a year to reach my home. 4G took around 5 years to get to me and then I had to wait more for 4.5G.
    LOL!

    You try so hard to avoid acknowledging the obvious.

    Easy math. 

    For FY 2021, Apple sold 234 m iPhones. Historically, 70 percent of those were new models, in this case with 5G.

    Looks to me like Apple sold around 164 m 5G iPhones in FY2021.

    Apple sold 80 million iPhones in the 4th quarter of 2020 (Apple's FY2021 Q1). Of those you would expect something above 56m iPhone 5g. Given that Apple sold 56 million of those 214 million that year, I'd guess that Apple sold more 5G than anyone else in 2020. 

    No other manufacturer was even close.

    Funny. I thought I was stating the obvious and using accepted numbers.

    But the kick-start happened when?

    See above! 
     
    And in 2021, 5G was not restricted to premium phones. It had reached much farther into the market. Hence the results on the graph in the link I provided.

    546 million 5G phones shipped in 2021 according to Statista. 

    It was an industry trend and Apple was simply part of the trend which Counterpoint had already put down to a 'natural increase'. That's a reasonable take. 
    edited February 23 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 31
    Yeah man, the fact that your chinese knockoff brands didn’t move the needle whatsoever is not the sick burn you think it is. but ok, “first!” 
    rob53williamlondonjony0
  • Reply 12 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,655member
    Yeah man, the fact that your chinese knockoff brands didn’t move the needle whatsoever is not the sick burn you think it is. but ok, “first!” 
    For handsets, considering it's mainly Chinese, South Korean or US brands, looking at the numbers, the Chinese brands possibly moved the needle most! 

    For 5G modems as a component it was possibly Qualcomm but only because of sanctions against Huawei. Although Mediatek might have popped Qualcomm to that particular post. 

    For 5G ICT and patents it was probably Huawei.

    Apple literally wasn't in the game, made a huge strategic goof and still seems to be trying to overcome the technical challenges.

    "First"? And? What’s your point? 
    nubus
  • Reply 13 of 31
    sflagel said:
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere.

    I'm always interested in reading about life experiences in other lands, but I should note that England is smaller than Illinois, where I reside. Building infrastructure in an embiggened land takes a while. (My Ps have regaled me with memories of electricity arriving in central Illinois in mid- to late-'40s. Dad said they splurged and had one outlet installed in each room despite misgivings that they would never have that many things to plug in.)
    edited February 24
  • Reply 14 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 2,533member
    sflagel said:
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere.
    I'm always interested in reading about life experiences in other lands, but I should note that England is smaller than Illinois, where I reside. Building infrastructure in an embiggened land takes a while. (My Ps have regaled me with memories of electricity arriving in central Illinois in mid- to late-'40s. Dad said they splurged and had one outlet installed in each room despite misgivings that they would never have that many things to plug in.)
     Circa 20 years ago after smartphones became commonplace and carriers started moving to 3G outside of cities I recall many otherwise comparatively "undeveloped" countries had much better infrastructure and coverage for higher speed cellular data. But that makes sense since running wire to every structure is more expensive than putting up a tower in an area, especially in very large countries where complete coverage would mean towers where it would rarely never have a device connecting to it.

    I've read over the last few years that 5G in South Korea has been a disappointment for users. Slower than expected and draining batteries faster than 4G. Apparently many users have simply downgraded to LTE. I'm not really holding out for 6G unless it's Apple that's going to spearhead it since it's unlikely — thought not impossible — that Apple will launch a cellular chipset that doesn't provide some benefit to utility..
    edited February 24
  • Reply 15 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,655member
    Xed said:
    sflagel said:
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere.
    I'm always interested in reading about life experiences in other lands, but I should note that England is smaller than Illinois, where I reside. Building infrastructure in an embiggened land takes a while. (My Ps have regaled me with memories of electricity arriving in central Illinois in mid- to late-'40s. Dad said they splurged and had one outlet installed in each room despite misgivings that they would never have that many things to plug in.)
     Circa 20 years ago after smartphones became commonplace and carriers started moving to 3G outside of cities I recall many otherwise comparatively "undeveloped" countries had much better infrastructure and coverage for higher speed cellular data. But that makes sense since running wire to every structure is more expensive than putting up a tower in an area, especially in very large countries where complete coverage would mean towers where it would rarely never have a device connecting to it.

    I've read over the last few years that 5G in South Korea has been a disappointment for users. Slower than expected and draining batteries faster than 4G. Apparently many users have simply downgraded to LTE. I'm not really holding out for 6G unless it's Apple that's going to spearhead it since it's unlikely — thought not impossible — that Apple will launch a cellular chipset that doesn't provide some benefit to utility..
    That is a little strange as South Korea is typically fast in real world settings and was also used for several industrial pilot programmes prior to full scale deployment. 

    This article is from last year and shows great performance for South Korea and a six fold improvement over 4G on average.

    https://www.opensignal.com/2023/06/30/benchmarking-the-global-5g-experience-june-2023#:~:text=Absolute 5G Download Speed is,average 5G speeds top 300Mbps.


  • Reply 16 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 2,533member
    avon b7 said:
    Xed said:
    sflagel said:
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere.
    I'm always interested in reading about life experiences in other lands, but I should note that England is smaller than Illinois, where I reside. Building infrastructure in an embiggened land takes a while. (My Ps have regaled me with memories of electricity arriving in central Illinois in mid- to late-'40s. Dad said they splurged and had one outlet installed in each room despite misgivings that they would never have that many things to plug in.)
     Circa 20 years ago after smartphones became commonplace and carriers started moving to 3G outside of cities I recall many otherwise comparatively "undeveloped" countries had much better infrastructure and coverage for higher speed cellular data. But that makes sense since running wire to every structure is more expensive than putting up a tower in an area, especially in very large countries where complete coverage would mean towers where it would rarely never have a device connecting to it.

    I've read over the last few years that 5G in South Korea has been a disappointment for users. Slower than expected and draining batteries faster than 4G. Apparently many users have simply downgraded to LTE. I'm not really holding out for 6G unless it's Apple that's going to spearhead it since it's unlikely — thought not impossible — that Apple will launch a cellular chipset that doesn't provide some benefit to utility..
    That is a little strange as South Korea is typically fast in real world settings and was also used for several industrial pilot programmes prior to full scale deployment. 

    This article is from last year and shows great performance for South Korea and a six fold improvement over 4G on average.

    https://www.opensignal.com/2023/06/30/benchmarking-the-global-5g-experience-june-2023#:~:text=Absolute 5G Download Speed is,average 5G speeds top 300Mbps.


    Take your pick or choose from countless others...

    https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/koreans-unhappy-5g-performance-2020-11/
    https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Telecommunication/Poor-5G-connectivity-disappoints-South-Korean-users
    https://www.ft.com/content/1ff639a4-a85a-11e9-984c-fac8325aaa04
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,655member
    Xed said:
    avon b7 said:
    Xed said:
    sflagel said:
    I’ve adopted two 5g iPhones, but not sure I’ve ever been on a 5g network even in rare trip to big city. 
    I live in England, one of the most backwards countries in Europe, and here we have 5G everywhere.
    I'm always interested in reading about life experiences in other lands, but I should note that England is smaller than Illinois, where I reside. Building infrastructure in an embiggened land takes a while. (My Ps have regaled me with memories of electricity arriving in central Illinois in mid- to late-'40s. Dad said they splurged and had one outlet installed in each room despite misgivings that they would never have that many things to plug in.)
     Circa 20 years ago after smartphones became commonplace and carriers started moving to 3G outside of cities I recall many otherwise comparatively "undeveloped" countries had much better infrastructure and coverage for higher speed cellular data. But that makes sense since running wire to every structure is more expensive than putting up a tower in an area, especially in very large countries where complete coverage would mean towers where it would rarely never have a device connecting to it.

    I've read over the last few years that 5G in South Korea has been a disappointment for users. Slower than expected and draining batteries faster than 4G. Apparently many users have simply downgraded to LTE. I'm not really holding out for 6G unless it's Apple that's going to spearhead it since it's unlikely — thought not impossible — that Apple will launch a cellular chipset that doesn't provide some benefit to utility..
    That is a little strange as South Korea is typically fast in real world settings and was also used for several industrial pilot programmes prior to full scale deployment. 

    This article is from last year and shows great performance for South Korea and a six fold improvement over 4G on average.

    https://www.opensignal.com/2023/06/30/benchmarking-the-global-5g-experience-june-2023#:~:text=Absolute 5G Download Speed is,average 5G speeds top 300Mbps.


    Take your pick or choose from countless others...

    https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/koreans-unhappy-5g-performance-2020-11/
    https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Telecommunication/Poor-5G-connectivity-disappoints-South-Korean-users
    https://www.ft.com/content/1ff639a4-a85a-11e9-984c-fac8325aaa04
    I think I see where the problem is. From the first link (second one I can't access but seems to be the same story from a different source) those users (around 6.5% of total 5G users) aren't happy because they were getting around four and a half times the speed of 4G but had been 'promised' twenty times more for 5G.

    If I were one of those I do the same and ask for a refund.

    The Open Signal averages paint a better picture of South Korea which has seen a major improvement overall. Even for those in the 6% in spite of them being right to be unhappy. 
  • Reply 18 of 31
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,327member
    avon b7 said:
    Yeah man, the fact that your chinese knockoff brands didn’t move the needle whatsoever is not the sick burn you think it is. but ok, “first!” 
    For handsets, considering it's mainly Chinese, South Korean or US brands, looking at the numbers, the Chinese brands possibly moved the needle most! 

    For 5G modems as a component it was possibly Qualcomm but only because of sanctions against Huawei. Although Mediatek might have popped Qualcomm to that particular post. 

    For 5G ICT and patents it was probably Huawei.

    Apple literally wasn't in the game, made a huge strategic goof and still seems to be trying to overcome the technical challenges.

    "First"? And? What’s your point? 
    Oh, so now it's the Chinese brands against Apple.

    Please note that when Apple entered the "game", they shipped in one single quarter, 25% of the 2020 yearly total, hence the steepest slope of the graph you linked, from 0ctober 2020 thru December 2020. That's the kickstart.

    Apple made no "strategic goof", and there was never a downside to how Apple both transitioned to 5G and invested in its own 5G modem.
    edited February 24 jony0
  • Reply 19 of 31
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,921member
    likely a few things at play here - as others have mentioned, Apple was relatively late to the game with 5G. There are also many people (like many here) for whom 5G was a far less important consideration than staying with Apple. The end result is you have a large cohort of people who don't switch to 5G until their iPhone has it. Now combine that with a natural acceleration as the Android phones switch over and the infrastructure gets built out. Was it because "Apple kickstarted 5G" or because 5G adoption accelerated when Apple added it? Probably a mix of the two but I think the headlines overstate Apple's role.

     interesting to read the comments here - several years ago when Apple had yet to add 5G to their phones there was a substantial amount of angst here on AI. At the time I remember asking people "Why do I need 5G on my phone?" All I got was people repeating the rote answers about the benefits of 5G, none of which really applied to your typical smartphone user. Now, 5 years later I see everyone posting things like "yeah, I got it but I never use it."


  • Reply 20 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 2,533member
    MplsP said:
     interesting to read the comments here - several years ago when Apple had yet to add 5G to their phones there was a substantial amount of angst here on AI. At the time I remember asking people "Why do I need 5G on my phone?" All I got was people repeating the rote answers about the benefits of 5G, none of which really applied to your typical smartphone user. Now, 5 years later I see everyone posting things like "yeah, I got it but I never use it."
    Those are effectively the same thing. I wondered why I needed 5G and I don't care about now. It's a very scenario over the move from 2.5G to 3G to 4G.
    MplsP
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