5G smartphone sales pick up despite limited network coverage in US

5G smartphone sales have started picking up in over 10 cities in the United States in May 2019, a research report from Counterpoint said.
5G smartphone distribution in US citiesVerizon started first 5G mobile services in the United States and also the world’s first 5G service with millimeter wave. In April, Verizon launched the 5G service in just two cities, Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon added more cities slowly. Denver joined on June 27 and Rhode Island on July 1.

Though there is no widespread availability of 5G services in the United States, the demand for 5G smartphones is encouraging.

While Chicago showed the highest concentration of sales, it represented only 5 percent of total 5G smartphone sales according to data collected across millions of sales data points during May.

“The top 10 cities make up one-third of all 5G smartphone sales in May. This indicates how widespread initial 5G smartphone sales have been, despite early predictions that sales will concentrate in cities with 5G service,” Tom Kang, research director at Counterpoint Research, said.

Consumers are buying 5G devices despite not having a 5G network available in most cases. Minneapolis, one of the two launch cities is not even in the top 10 list.

“Instead, we see cities like Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles in the top five cities list for 5G smartphone sales,” Tom Kang said.

Opensignal’s latest analysis of 5G indicates that the highest maximum speeds seen by 5G users in the USA was 1815 Mbps, which is approximately three times as fast as 4G users’ maximum speed.

The 5G maximum speed is so much greater in the US, because operators there are already able to use mmWave spectrum for 5G. This is extremely high capacity and extremely fast spectrum but has very limited coverage compared with the 3.4-3.8 GHz 5G spectrum typically used in most of the other countries, Opensignal said.

Counterpoint Research predicts that 5G smartphone sales will see a significant increase in the US once all carriers and smartphone brands are ready with their offerings. It forecasts that the US market for 5G smartphones will reach more than five million units in 2019.