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Apple kickstarted 5G and now 2 billion smartphones have it

Apple introduced 5G with the iPhone 12 in 2020

The worldwide total sales of 5G smartphones has now exceeded 2 billion, spearheaded by Apple’s iPhone 12 and newer models.

The iPhone 12 was Apple’s first 5G smartphone and despite it launching late in October 2020, its high sales made it the world’s most popular 5G phone within two weeks. Immediately dominating 5G sales, it also drove the market to 5G, according to Counterpoint Research.

New figures from Counterpoint say that worldwide 5G sales have now exceeded 2 billion, and done so a year faster than it took 4G.

“The launch of the iPhone 12 series, the first 5G-capable iPhones, significantly accelerated 5G adoption,” says the research firm, “taking global 5G shipments to above 100 million units in a single quarter for the first time in Q4 2020.”

“The momentum continued and the shipments hit a new record in Q4 2023,” says Counterpoint, “reaching 200 million units in a single quarter.”

Apple and Samsung are the most popular 5G brands, continues the report, with the two companies together selling one billion units. Counterpoint notes that a narrowing price gap between 4G and 5G components is bringing the technology to lower-price models, which is benefiting major Chinese brands.

Penetration of 5G across the world (Source: Counterpoint)

Penetration of 5G across the world (Source: Counterpoint)

In China, Japan, the US and across most of Europe, over 80% of smartphones shipped in 2023 were 5G. Counterpoint says 5G penetration is 50% or more in 40 countries, while only 13 such as Nigeria and Paraguay have under 20% of sales on 5G.

Sales are not necessarily tied to countries where 5G is available or common, however. “Even in markets where 5G networks are not fully operational,” says Counterpoint, “consumers opt for 5G smartphones to future-proof their investment.”

All of Apple’s iPhones use a 5G modem made by Qualcomm. However, Apple has been working for years on developing its own 5G chipset, despite reportedly having difficulties with the project.

This story originally appeared on Appleinsider

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