Skip to main content

Don't Expect 5G Phones to Take Off Until 2021

If you're excited for 5G, you may have to wait a bit longer than you thought.

5G phones aren't going to roll out in full swing until 2021, according to a new report from Digitimes

Credit: David Becker/Getty

(Image credit: David Becker/Getty)

While the report notes that 5G-enabled devices will begin to roll out in 2019 (as some companies have promised), shipments are not expected to surpass one million units.

Things are expected to pick up in three years. In 2022, Digitimes researchers expect 5G smartphones to account for 97% of 5G-device shipments, and 18% of smartphone shipments.

The report cites difficulty manufacturing the chips and antenna arrays necessary to support 5G as the reason companies are lagging behind. However, some companies may also be waiting on carriers. A 5G chip will likely take up more space in a smartphone than previous chips, and suck considerably more battery life.

MORE: The Truth About 5G: What's Coming (and What's Not) in 2018

It makes sense to wait to make these tradeoffs until 5G is widespread enough that most customers will see the benefits. AT&T plans to launch the wireless service in just 12 U.S. cities by the end of 2018, while Verizon hasn't yet announced plans for mobile 5G, and T-Mobile estimates that full 5G coverage will come in 2020. Users in many countries outside the U.S. will likely have to wait even longer. 

As BGR notes, Apple waited for carriers to offer decent coverage before launching the first 4G-enabled iPhone (the iPhone 5). And while we don't yet know exactly when Samsung will release its 5G phone, the company has announced that the Galaxy S10 (rumored to be its next one) will not have it.