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China sees 400% monthly growth in 5G phone shipments, despite slowing smartphone market

China is expected to ship over 100 million 5G mobile phones by 2020.

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Chinese 5G smartphone shipments increased by 400% in October compared to last month, according to a report released on Monday by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), the scientific research institute directly under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China.

In particular, 2.94 million 5G smartphones were shipped in China by the end of October alone, compared to 497,000 shipments in September.

Industry insiders highly anticipated a continuous growth in 5G smartphone shipments despite a slowdown in the country’s total mobile phone shipments in October, where only 36 million phones were shipped, down 6.7% year-on-year.

Investment bank Citic Securities predicts that China is expected to ship over 100 million 5G mobile phones by 2020, while global shipments will reach 200 to 300 million units, local financial media China Securities Journal reported.

The launch of a variety of new 5G smartphones contributed to the fast growth in China’s 5G sector. Figures from the report show that 49 new mobile phone models were released over the past ten months, 20 of which are 5G models.

China’s smartphone vendors are facing growing demands and fierce competition within the market as 5G is gradually adopted. Many players including Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung have stepped into the battlefield.

Vivo, which was among the earliest to ship 5G phones in China, has grabbed a 54.3% market share in the country’s newborn 5G smartphone market in the third quarter of 2019, said market research firm IDC. Samsung took a 29% market share while Huawei and Xiaomi followed with slices of 9.5% and 4.6%, respectively.

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor will launch its first 5G compatible flagship model V30 on November 26, while OPPO announced the launch of a Qualcomm-powered dual-mode 5G smartphone in December, in mainland China.

Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, also said recently that his company will continue to work on developing and promoting 5G technology, and will release at least 10 5G smartphone models in 2020.

China has officially started to commercialize 5G networks in 50 cities at the end of October. All three of China’s state-owned carriers—China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom—have rolled out 5G plans to its users, with the cheapest package priced at RMB 128 (USD 18) per month with a 30 GB quota.