Do 5G-Ready Smartphones Matter In 2020?
HWM Singapore|June 2020
With 5G taking its time to reach our smartphone users here, do the current crop of 5G-ready smartphones matter in Singapore?
Liu Hongzuo

There’s been a consistent wave of 5G-ready smartphones arriving on the shores of Singapore. We have Samsung, which brought the 5G-capable Galaxy S20 Ultra despite it not being the first 5G-capable phone in their stable. Huawei has their P40 series, where the full line-up can connect to 5G mobile networks. Oppo and OnePlus brought their respective Find X2 Pro and OnePlus 8 series here, too.

More phones launching this year and the next will see more 5G compatible devices, but Singapore’s first few 5G networks aren’t slated for launch until January 2021 with a generous deadline of the year 2025 for a full, island-wide roll-out.

With 5G taking its time to reach our smartphone users here, do the current crop of 5G-ready smartphones matter in Singapore? Answering that will require us to understand whether 5G lives up to its hype, how we’d likely respond to it, and what our purchasing habits have become.

MIXED USER REVIEWS

If 5G networks around the world had user reviews like how games on Steam are rated, it would be mixed. South Korea accrued 5 million 5G network subscribers since its April 2019 launch. That was hardearned - in reality, the rising cost of mobile devices and the spotty 5G connectivity has led to locals questioning if it was worth switching from 4G. Over in the United States, 5G got off to a relatively good start in 2019, but they are still trying to rectify patchy connectivity issues. Japan saw their first 5G networks going live in March this year, and its locals are enjoying the speed despite lamenting the coverage. China, arguably the leader in 5G deployment today, has users that aren’t too excited, citing high costs such as pricey 5G mobile data plans and pricier 5G-ready phones.

It seems like 5G is able to deliver breakneck speeds, but other factors - like its affordability, accessibility, and reliability - are holding it back. With most of these global 5G issues being infrastructural or price-related, it is going to fall upon the winners of the 5G licensing bid in Singapore to make their 5G network attractive and usable.

FAST SPEEDS, BUT OVER TIME

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