At least three major smartphone manufacturers could bring 5G-capable smartphones to the South African market in 2020.
Samsung, Huawei, and LG have told MyBroadband that they are considering plans to launch 5G devices in the country this year.
The updates come as Vodacom recently confirmed that it was rolling out 5G this year, while MTN said its 5G launch will depend on the release of more spectrum.
Samsung told MyBroadband that it has invested heavily in 5G technology.
“Samsung continues to invest in R&D, registering the largest number of essential patents,” the company said.
“These have driven the commercialisation of 5G forward. In 2019 Korea launched 5G – followed by America. In 2018 we successfully completed the 5G trial test in Soweto in South Africa.”
The company said it would announce the timeline for the release of its 5G-ready devices in South Africa soon.
“However, we are waiting for the confirmation of the roll-out of 5G in South Africa before releasing more information,” Samsung said.
Samsung’s current 5G smartphone lineup includes the Galaxy S10 5G and Note 10+ 5G, and its new range of Galaxy S devices is expected to include 5G support.
Although Huawei did not confirm any official release dates, Vice President of Huawei Consumer Business Group for Southern Africa Zhao Likun said it wants to bring a range of 5G smartphones to the country.
“As Huawei South Africa we definitely want to give our consumers the opportunity to experience our best products which include 5G smartphones. We will bring more new smartphones with 5G capabilities, ranging from flagship devices to mid-range wares,” Likun stated.
When asked about the expected pricing of these 5G smartphones, Likun said this will be aligned with what customers have come to expect from Huawei.
“Compared with 2019, the price of 5G smartphone will be more affordable. Mid-range is a sweet spot for volume-shifting in South Africa,” Likun said.
Likun said the launch of these devices is dependent on the availability of 5G services from mobile operators.
Another possible addition to its line-up in South Africa is the foldable Huawei Mate X.
The company could not confirm whether the Mate X itself would be available locally, but it said it will announce which specific foldable models will be launched in South Africa at a later date.
LG Electronics South Africa said it was currently in discussions with mobile operators about a possible 5G launch.
“LG South Africa is in alignment with LG Global regarding 5G rollout, we are in discussions with Vodacom to possibly launch within the first half of 2020,” the company said.
Exactly which models can be expected was not revealed, but LG said the pricing will be in the premium range, pending discussions with mobile operators.
Analysts have said that LG could capitalise in the 5G space in 2020, as Huawei could be limited due to the US-China trade ban and Apple is only expected to launch its first 5G smartphone at the end of the year.
The local 5G range will likely not include LG’s upcoming flagship V60 ThinQ, however, as the company has said the 5G version of this device will be limited to the US and Europe.
The company said it would be releasing phones in regions according to tiers.
South Africans may be able to get their hands on a 5G version of last year’s flagship, the LG V50 ThinQ.