Due to increased competition in the telecom sector and a staggering investment in 5G networks at more than THB10 billion, Thai telecom operators are now accelerating the expansion of their 5G user bases by inducing more consumers to use 5G smartphones, which will in turn help boost the uptake of 5G internet services. It is expected that the 4G to 5G technology transition will hinge on three factors, namely smartphone functions, smartphone prices and the 5G smartphone ecosystem.
The 4G to 5G smartphone transition may not take place in 2020 to any great degree because only tech-savvy and affluent consumers will likely buy 5G smartphones during the initial phase. Their purchases are driven primarily by the more sophisticated functions of 5G smartphones, though such functions may not be much different from those of 4G smartphones. However, if more applications are dependent on 5G and prices of 5G smartphones decline, it is expected that more consumers, in particular those who tend to replace their smartphones every 3-5 years, will purchase 5G smartphones.
Given this, we at KResearch assess that the 4G to 5G smartphone transition in the mass market will take place over the next 3-4 years. Meanwhile, total sales of 5G smartphones are set to reach over 80,000 units in 2020, or 0.6 percent of the total smartphone sales projected at around 14.8 million units, representing a 19.0 percent YoY contraction. In 2021, sales of 5G smartphones are projected to double to 160,000 units.