Any remaining doubts about the fifth generation of wireless connectivity may be slowly fading away if the increase in 5G device manufacturing is any indicator. More than 650 smartphone models have been launched, which comprises 50 percent of all 5G devices by form factor, according to Ericsson’s June 2022 Mobility Report. Additionally, 5G device shipments have more than doubled in 2021 versus 2020 and exceed 615 million units shipped.
Meanwhile, more than 20 service providers had launched public 5G standalone (SA) networks on mid- and low-band frequencies by the end of 2021.
“There is a greater focus on standalone enablement for smartphones including 3CC New Radio carrier aggregation,” Ericsson said in the Mid-tier smartphones take 5G into the mainstream section of its mobility report. “Global smartphone shipments rose 6 percent in 2021 compared with 2020. However, additional limitations are evident in 2022 due to geopolitics, continued supply chain constraints and the COVID-19 situation in China.”
Despite those potential limitations, 5G device output has been in line with expectations, according to the report. Ericsson noted that devices introduced this year so far have shown improved capabilities, including carrier aggregation extended from two to three NR carriers for SA, NR dual connectivity for SA and improved uplink capabilities.
“The trend is clear, with more focus on SA,” the company said. “Apart from improved device capabilities, a wider range of 5G smartphone models are now available in the mid-tier price segment. This means that 5G smartphones are becoming increasingly affordable for more market segments. This comes at a time when we see a price trend break at the lowest end of 5G devices. Impacted by supply, inflation and globalization challenges, there have been indications for some time of an emerging price floor of $120.”
Future 5G use cases
The Ericsson Mobility Reported noted there were a number of extended reality (XR) demos at the latest Mobile World Congress event. The combination of maximum latency and network slicing is likely to lead to new device-powered use cases that could create new innovations.
“As XR glasses will be connected through companion devices for the next few years, the smartphone will likely be part of that innovation for a longer time than generally anticipated,” the report said. “The first devices have started to enter the market, and more are expected throughout this year. There is an optimistic outlook for extended reality use cases over the intermediate term based on XR glasses, headsets or heads-up displays as peripherals connected to smartphones or other 5G smart devices.”
Other 5G-related forecasts included the first reduced capability (RedCap) devices being available by 2024. These solutions would introduce relaxed requirements on the device’s receiver, allowing for lower costs compared to standard new radio. RedCap devices can facilitate the NR device ecosystem expansion to cater to the use cases that NR specs don’t currently best serve. This includes wearables, industrial wireless sensors and video surveillance.
Click here to view the entire June 2022 Ericsson Mobility Report