With 2020 the year 5G went truly mainstream with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20, Pixel 5 and iPhone 12, 2021 is set to be the year 5G smartphones become affordable for millions more consumers.
Currently, some of the most affordable 5G smartphones include the OnePlus Nord, which is priced at around $450. But for 2021 this should change markedly with Samsung reportedly planning a 5G handset priced at under $200.
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According to South Korean publication Daum, Samsung is working on a smartphone called the Galaxy A22, that will include 5G connectivity but cost just 200,000 won, which at the current exchange rate is about $180.
Such an aggressive price would put 5G in the hands of many millions of consumers, and especially those whose budget doesn't stretch to a $450 OnePlus or $700 iPhone 12 mini.
Samsung is expected to target the Galaxy A22 5G at its native South Korea, as well as India, where there is strong demand for lower-priced smartphones. That said, we would love to see a sub-$200 5G Samsung arrive in the US and Europe, allowing more budget-conscious shoppers a chance to use 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy A21 could be replaced by a 5G-equipped A22 in 2021Samsung
We expect to see more low-price 5G options in 2021 from OnePlus, as well as manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola, Xiaomi and Realme.
However, the jury is still out on whether the benefits of 5G really outweigh the cost of a new handset, especially to smartphone users who don't need to buy a replacement just yet. While it is true that 5G offers faster download and upload speeds than 4G (and significantly faster in some cases), this doesn't make a great deal of difference to the everyday use of a smartphone.
This is highlighted by Apple's use of a system for the iPhone 12 where the phone might say it is connected to 5G, but is in fact using 4G to save battery life, unless a faster connection and lower latency is absolutely required by the user's actions.
It will be interesting to see if 5G can really make an argument for itself in 2021 and beyond. And when it does, at least we can expect to see 5G smartphones at far more attainable prices.