China-based smartphone maker Realme has shipped 25 million phones in 2019 and aims to ship 50 million in 2020.
Realme has also announced its X50 5G smartphone — priced at roughly 2499 yuan or $359.71 for the cheapest variant.
Samsung, the South Korean technology giant, shipped 3.2 million 5G smartphones in the third quarter, representing 74 percent of the 4.3-million-unit global market.
Samsung’s 5G smartphone shipments in the third quarter more than doubled compared to 1.5 million units in the second quarter, according to IHS Markit.
China-based Huawei Technologies and Oppo have each released four 5G smartphone models to date.
Xiaomi has launched three models, and CEO Lei Jun said last year the company would aim to unveil at least 10 smartphone models in 2020, Reuters reported.
Apple, which has seen sales in China struggle since their peak in 2015, is expected to release a 5G smartphone later this year.
The 5G smartphone wave comes as China rapidly upgrades its telecommunication infrastructure to include 5G base stations. As of late November, China had 113,000 base stations in service, according to state media reports.
This has given Chinese smartphone brands an incentive to boost sales domestically. Overall Chinese phone sales dropped 4.5 percent annually in October 2019, according to government data.
Chase Qi, president of global marketing at Realme, said that he expects many consumers will upgrade their phones as 5G networks improve.
He also said the company will focus on selling in Europe and the Middle East this year.
Realme originated as a sub-brand under Oppo, one of China’s top smartphone brands, before spinning off as an independent division. Both companies, along with Vivo, and Oppo, are owned by BBK Electronics Corporation, a decades-old device maker.
The brand grew shipments in India nearly four-fold between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019, according to data from research firm IDC.
Will Wong, who tracks China’s smartphone sector of IDC, attributes the Realme’s success in India to its affiliation with Oppo, which is known to give retail partners higher margins on device sales than competitors.
He adds that while China is a new market for the brand, it will steadily become a priority as 70 percent of the market is still low-end to mid-range.
5G smartphone demand in 2020 is expected to reach 253 million units, according to Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst, smartphones, at IHS Markit | Technology.