2G phones still sell more than 5G devices in China

China Mobile 5G

The Chinese smartphone sales data for August 2019 was recently released by China Information and Communication Research Institute. The reports show that smartphone shipment for the month is 30.875 million. However, of this amount, 1.177 million units are 2G phones while 219,000 are 5G smartphones. Although 2019 is 5G’s first year, 2G is almost three decades old. So why is 5G phone sales only one-fifth of 2G mobile phones?

2g phones

The shipment of more than 1 million 2G phones per month in China is beyond the imagination of many people. It’s interesting because at best, the 2G network can make calls, send messages and a few other simple functions. Here are a couple of reasons why 2G still dominates the 5G in terms of phone shipment

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  1. 5G base stations in China are still in a large-scale deployment phase. There is no network coverage in many areas. Taking Beijing as an example, as of the end of July, only 7863 5G base stations have been completed. This density obviously cannot guarantee a steady 5G network for users.
  2. 5G smartphones are still very expensive
  3. The demand for 2G mobile phones for the elderly is vital. Elderly people find it difficult to operate smartphones. They rather stick with their 2G mobile phones
  4. In many remote areas, the 2G network is far better than 3G or 4G network. This retains the demand for 2G devices

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, as of the end of 2018, the total number of mobile phones in China is 1.57 billion. Of this figure, 4G users are 1.17 billion. In other words, China has 400 million 2G and 3G users.

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According to Strategy Analytics, the sales of 5G equipment accounts for less than 1% of total sales in 2019. However, by 2020 the share will be close to 10%. “On a global scale, the high price of 5G mobile phones is the biggest concern of early consumers. Consumers don’t want to spend a lot of money to buy a poorly available device. Operators must continue to expand the coverage of 5G networks to make 5G consumption more attractive,” said Ken Hals, director of Strategy Analytics.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officially issued 5G commercial licenses this year. Chinese mobile phone manufacturers such as Huawei, Xiaomi and ZTE have launched new products since June. However, these phones have not entirely met the expectations of users.

“For ordinary users, 5G services and 5G mobile phones still lack practical use.” Communication expert Ma Jihua of the “Global Times” said. The reporter believes that most of the users who have purchased 5G mobile phones and have actual needs are R&D personnel. The purpose is to conduct related tests for 5G networks. In addition, some technology enthusiasts will also buy. Presently, there is no large scale shipment of 5G smartphones, he added

Nevertheless, the three major operators in China are gradually retiring the 2G band. Ma Jihua said that China’s 4G network coverage has been very good. With the arrival of the 5G era, 2G networks will gradually withdraw from the historical stage.


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