5G smartphones don't come cheap. It's a tech that's limited only to a handful of 2019 flagships and something that even the latest iPhones do not have on offer. Earlier this year, we saw Samsung launch the Galaxy S10 5G variant for $1,299 (approx S$1,765), and even the cheapest 5G flagships, the OnePlus 7 Pro, costs a little over $840 (approx S$1,155). But all that could change come 2020.
The next year is supposed to be the time for great innovation in the smartphone industry and manufacturers will be betting big on 5G. It's no wonder then that the technology could make its way onto mid-range smartphones as well.
Qualcomm and MediaTek have already 5G chipset in the works for mid-range phones, meaning that owning a 5G smartphone will become much more affordable. The prices will be as low as $285 or just around £230/€255 (approx S$387). And at the forefront of this revolution could be China's Xiaomi.
The electronics company could possibly be one of the biggest smartphone players in 5G next year if what its claims is to be believed. Xiaomi's CEO, Lei Jun, at an event earlier this year, announced that the company is planning to launch at least 10 new 5G smartphones next year.
Recently, during a keynote event, he has further cemented his claim by saying that the company will fully promote the development and promotion of 5G smartphones and claimed that in the first half of 2020 all of Xiaomi's smartphones above ¥2000 ($285) will support 5G connectivity.
The announcement was made at the on-going 2019 China Mobile Global Partners Conference being held in Guangzhou, China. At the same event, China Mobile's (largest carrier in China) chairman, Yang Jie, said that the carrier plans to add more 70 million 5G users in 2020 and expand the 5G application to over 100 industries.
Xiaomi's ambitious plans could make 5G phones far more accessible and affordable to the average consumer. The company's current portfolio has just a couple of 5G handsets, including the now relatively old Mi Mix 3 5G and the China-specific Mi 9 Pro 5G. There's also the Mi Mix Alpha that supports 5G connectivity but that's just a prototype with only 500 units reportedly being manufactured.
The company has also previously launched its 5G+AIoT strategy, which means it will also develop AIoT devices along with 5G. Earlier this year, chip maker, MediaTek officially announced that it will launch a new 5G chipset, and there are rumours that suggest that the first smartphone powered by MediaTek's new 5G chip could possibly be the Redmi K30, which succeeds the hugely popular Redmi K20.
Xiaomi's optimistic and radical approach to making 5G affordable could mean that the technology might make its way onto mid-range flagship devices such as the non-Pro version of the Redmi K30, the Mi 10 SE and eventually on the yet-unannounced successor to the Redmi Note 8 Pro, the Redmi Note 9 Pro. However, this may seem like a little bit of an overkill but going by Xiaomi's past record, it could still be a possibility.
Meanwhile, Xiaomi won't be the only smartphone company which could make a big push in 5G in 2020. Other companies like Samsung and Huawei could also try and bring the tech onto their more affordable phones. And we might also finally see Apple adding 5G to its 2020 iPhones, possibly on all three iPhone 12 models.