5G: Lessons From the Pandemic

May 12, 2020
By: Marissa Camilli

If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that smartphones are essential to life as we know it. We need them to stay connected to our employers, friends, and families. We need them to order food and essential supplies. We need them to keep abreast of the news. We need them to educate our kids. We need them to stay entertained. Ultimately we need them to stay safe. The quicker our connections to the world, the more secure we feel. If ever there was a time for 5G — it is now.

Way back in January, when the Coronavirus was merely a local problem in the Wuhan region of China, we predicted that 5G would slowly start to change the way the world would engage with their smartphones. This would initially be seen in the major cities of major economies around the world and primarily benefit owners of premium-priced devices.

Further Reading: Future Gazing: 5G for the People

COVID-19 has changed the way businesses and individuals prioritize things and as we look towards a “new normal” in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future, it looks like 5G will be a much more egalitarian in its initial wave of market penetration.

Low-Cost 5G Devices Drive Engagement

To date, 5G has typically only been available on premium ($1,000+) devices. This is all about to change as high-speed 5G comes to more affordable mid-range devices.

Samsung is leading the charge with media reports suggesting that the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer is looking towards their more affordable A-series of devices to connect the world to 5G networks — presenting a quantum leap in terms of a typical end-of-contract upgrade for smartphone users on a budget.

Looking at the various markets where Samsung has done particularly well with low-cost and mid-range devices (Brazil, Mexico, Europe), the economy of scale stands a very good chance at re-invigorating a market that has been impacted by the global pandemic.

LG, Motorola, Nokia, and the Chinese start-up OnePlus are also looking to drive more smartphone sales in US and global markets with the lure of affordable 5G devices.

Rumors of Apple potentially delaying the launch of their 5G devices will be particularly welcome in the Android community, creating a real first-mover advantage for Android manufacturers hoping to take market share.

Further Reading: Apple Brand Loyalty Declines in Favor of Android Devices

Mass 5G Coverage

Of course, 5G is useless if the coverage isn’t available. The good news is that the US can expect to see close to national coverage in 2020 with all the major networks (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T) hard at work launching and aggressively expanding their 5G networks.

Check out this useful guide on Android Central to see if 5G is currently available in your location.

Big Savings for Carriers

While the various networks are investing heavily in their 5G networks, ultimately the carriers will enjoy significant savings by moving customers from older devices.

Consumers are devouring more and more data on their Smartphones to access videos, social media, gaming, and productivity apps. With 3G, it would cost approximately $0.10/MB to deliver these ‘bits’ to the phone. With 4G, the cost dropped to $0.01/MB.

While there are different standards of 5G trading off coverage radius for speed enhancements, 5G comes with a cost structure that is a fraction of 4G due to efficiencies in delivery, capacity, etc.

Experts suggest that while it might have cost $2 to stream a video on Netflix on a 3G device, and $0.20 on a 4G smartphone, the cost equivalent on a 5G device would run to mere pennies.

What Does this mean for App Developers?

When devices work at the speed of 5G, app developers are able to deliver on their promises and really improve user satisfaction.

All the advantages afforded by 5G devices and networks (speed, latency, costs, etc.) mean more engagement, more content consumption, and more time spent on devices.

5G essentially creates greater opportunities to intertwine your apps into people’s lives. If your app solves a problem for your users (from keeping their entertained to monitoring their health in real-time), 5G will simply make everything better. Can you afford not to bet on better?

Further Reading: Invisible Innovation (Magic) to Fuel Smartphone’s Golden Age

Learn More

These are worrying times but they are also exciting times. Let’s focus on staying safe and moving forward together with a giant technological leap.

To learn more about how Digital Turbine can help you get your app on this next generation of 5G devices, contact us today and ask to speak with one of our app marketing experts.

Marissa Camilli
By Marissa Camilli
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