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Customer trends hint towards slowdown in 5G adoption, according to YouGov

Jasper Hart
June 22, 2020

This year’s flagship iPhone likely to be significant indicator of uptake

Prevailing consumer trends and the economic downturn are likely to have a negative effect on 5G device uptake, according to research from YouGov.

The market research firm found that while the number of 5G smartphone-owning Brits rose from three per cent to five per cent between June and December last year, intention to get a 5G device decline from 28 per cent to 25 per cent.

Additionally, while Apple boasted a 39 per cent UK market share as of December last year (and key rival Huawei has suffered from a loss of trust), the number of consumers with a traditional contract has declined from 67 per cent at the end of 2015 to 48 per cent at the end of last year.

The number of customers taking a SIM-only contract rose in the same period from 16 per cent to 36 per cent, while 45 per cent of consumers who switched network providers last year said they did not get a new handset, suggesting that customers are looking for better network service, not better handsets.

YouGov also found that the number of customers with a high-end handset has declined from 34 per cent in December 2015 to 18 per cent last year. The firm attributes the decline in premium handset market share (and reluctance of consumers to get a new device) to a perceived lack of innovation among premium devices.

UK 5G rollout has managed to proceed largely uninterrupted during lockdown, despite some acts of vandalism by conspiracy theorists.

O2 recently announced that it had launched its 5G network in parts of 60 UK towns and cities, ahead of its summer 2020 target of 50.

In its research, YouGov added that consumer responses to Apple’s rumoured 5G flagships later this year would be crucial to providing a more detailed outlook for 5G’s prospects.

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