China's leading consumer electronics brand TCL plans to launch its first 5G smartphone in China by the middle of next year, its chief marketing officer revealed at the CCS Insight prediction event on Thursday in London.
Stefan Streit told the Global Times, "We have been working very closely with our carrier partners in China in terms of 5G research."
In June, TCL established a joint 5G innovation R&D Lab with China Unicom, and in September, it signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Mobile and kicked off its 5G + Industrial Internet Demonstration Park.
"The partnership will help us to accelerate industrial transformation while exploring new business models for 5G applications," Streit said, adding that TCL will bring more innovative Internet of Things (IoT) products and service to Chinese consumers. "That's also the purpose of those joint 5G labs with carrier customers," he stressed.
Being a pioneer in 5G applications, TCL engaged in 5G R&D as early as 2015. It was the first company to implement the pre-5G end-to-end solution demonstration at the Mobile World Congress last year.
In early June, China gave its major state-owned companies the green light to start rolling out 5G services to move ahead in the global race to set up the super-fast telecommunications system. The CCS Insight earlier predicted there would be 1 billion users of 5G by 2023, with more than half in China.
"The challenges we have today are to provide a more affordable 5G product portfolio to the market compared to our competitors," Streit said, giving an estimate of new TCL mobile phones of around $500.
According to the latest CCS Insight annual predictions, oversupply of 5G smartphones in 2020 will see prices plummet. Despite 5G still being in the very early phase, there will be more than 50 5G devices on the market by the end of 2019. Supply outweighing demand will lead to widespread price cuts in 2020.
Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight,
said, "The industry is moving positively, but with 5G it is a marathon. It's waiting for a 'big bang' moment, which might not even come. While there are questions over return of investment for businesses, many new markets are emerging."
Mann said as 5G rolls out, it would give opportunities for less known brands. And there is a call for a new generation of mobile devices that can connect a whole spectrum of technologies.
Founded in Huizhou, Guangdong Province in 1981, TCL is present in 160 countries. It ranked No. 2 in the world in terms of TV shipments. Its product portfolio covers smartphones, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, smart homes and other home appliances.
Being a leading mobile handset manufacturer in the world, TCL is now able to have a fully integrated ecosystem with the launch of TCL Mobile.