Affordable 5G phones are the demand of the hour. To drive 5G adoption at scale, more affordable 5G phones need to come to the Indian market. India is a highly price-sensitive market, and there are several million users who don't want to spend a lot of money on smartphones. The arrival of 4G VoLTE phones under Rs 10000 changed the game for 4G in India. In the same way, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) need to work on bringing 5G devices priced under Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000. While there are some 5G phones under Rs 15,000, there need to be more options.
Consumers aren't likely going to upgrade to a 5G phone just for the sake of 5G. The device refresh cycle is going to continue in the natural curve. But when the users do seek to change the device, they should have at least a few good options in every price bracket so that they can make the best choice for themselves.
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At the same time, more device affordability schemes could be announced. One scheme that Airtel announced by partnering with the OEMs was to give cashbacks to consumers on purchases of select smartphones. It is also a possible way forward where the devices are either subsidised by the network operators, and OEMs or cashbacks are given to the customers.
The 5G smartphone ecosystem is evolving very rapidly. Over the last few years, one big challenge that smartphone OEMs faced was to keep the cost of smartphones under target. The cost of components and chipsets went up rapidly because of the supply chain issues, and that led to more expensive devices for the consumers in the end.
Most of the 5G smartphones that are available in the market today are priced above Rs 15000 and Rs 20000. But as the effects of the pandemic subside, the costs should lower for the manufacturers. That should push the companies to lower the prices of future devices. Flagship phones are definitely not going to be cheaper. But more devices in the affordable segment can make a huge difference in the acceleration of 5G adoption in a market such as India.
By 2025, India is expected to have around 300 million 5G subscribers, said a CRISIL Ratings report. The actual numbers could be much higher as the penetration of 5G goes deeper and more affordable devices are launched.