Skip to main content

Higher price, fewer models and brands pose challenge to adoption of 5G smartphones in Gulf

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Despite the ongoing buzz around the launch of 5G smartphones in the UAE and the GCC currently, industry experts expect the adoption to remain slow.

“The average selling price remains measuredly high while options in terms of models and brands to choose from remain few,” Nabila Popal, senior research manager at International Data Corporation, told TechRadar Middle East.

Furthermore, she said that brands are seeing growth in the mid-range segment, and consumers remain somewhat oblivious to the benefits or impacts 5G may bring.

Isam Arshad, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, said that consumers in the UAE are price sensitive and the majority falls in the middle-class segment.

“Salaries are expected to remain the same this year compared to a growth last year. People are expected to postpone their purchases,” he said.

5 devices to contribute 2.2% to total in 2020 

The research firm IDC expects the share of 5G-enabled devices in the GCC to be 2.2% of the 17.33m total smartphone market in 2020, with steady growth after.

Akash Balachandran, senior research analyst at IDC, said that adoption is likely set to grow significantly in the mid- to long-term as new models rollout, but is set to stay conservative in the short term for the earlier mentioned reasons.

ZTE launched its Axon 10 Pro for AED 5,555 while Huawei launched its Mate 20 X 5G for AED 3,523 without 5% value-added tax in the UAE.

Big player are expected to launch 5G smartphones later this year.

It will take years to achieve appreciable market share

Popal said that indeed price remains a hurdle but the Mate 20 X seeks to remedy this to some extent – however, it must be noted that the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G is a 5G update of an older device.

“5G devices at the mentioned price point may certainly appeal to early adopters, but it’s unlikely to gain much traction with the average consumer who are likely to prefer current flagship devices (even though lacking 5G),” she said.

The 5G-enabled devices are expected to post very robust year-on-year growth in the GCC, Balachandran said.

However, with the installed base nearly non-existent currently, he said that it is likely to take several years before 5G phones achieve an appreciable market share.