OnePlus confirmed many weeks ago that it will launch a 5G smartphone based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 and 5G technology, and then said its first 5G phone wouldn’t be the OnePlus 7 that should be released at some point in the first half of the year. Samsung is also working on at least one Galaxy S10 version with 5G, with the phone expected to launch in Korea as soon as late March and in the US in the first half of the year. A report a few days ago said the 5G Galaxy S10 could cost twice as much as the cheapest 4G Galaxy S10, or between $1,400 and 1,600. While we have no idea how much the OnePlus 5G phone will cost, a report indicates that Chinese smartphone makers may have more budget-friendly prices in mind for the first wave of 5G phones.
OnePlus rose to popularity because it brought affordable flagship phones to international markets at affordable prices. OnePlus phones have the same high-end specs as other Android flagships, and they deliver even better performance at much lower price points. It would make sense to assume OnePlus would sell the OnePlus 5G phone as cheap as possible compared to rivals.
Meanwhile, Digitimes notes that Chinese vendors are likely to sell 5G phones at just 500 yuan ($74) more than their current price ranges to increase profitability in 2019, according to sources from the Taiwan supply chain. The report says the production cost for 5G phones should increase by less than $80 per unit. The 5G modem will be the most expensive addition to 5G phones, retailing for around $50, with the remaining $30 to be spent on new antenna technology for 5G networks, PCBs, and other materials.
Pricing for the first 5G phones will reportedly include a premium of 20% over production costs, a rate that should be acceptable to consumers while allowing vendors to grow profits. In other words, a 5G phone could cost up to $100 more than a 4G version of the same device. Assuming the sources who shared these details with Digitimes have accurate data at their disposal, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see an affordable 5G phone from OnePlus hit markets this year. The same goes for other 5G devices from major Chinese brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo. Huawei already confirmed that its foldable phone will have 5G connectivity and that device is likely going to be more expensive than phones with regular form factors. Xiaomi already launched a 5G phone, at least on paper. The 5G version of the Mi Mix 3 should hit stores later this year, but we have no pricing details for it.
As for the 5G Galaxy S10 version, reports say that 5G won’t be the only extra trick up its sleeve. The phone will have an even bigger display than the Galaxy S10+, up to 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of flash storage, as many as four rear cameras, and a much bigger battery under the hood. At least that’s what rumors say right now. That whole package might justify the rumored $1,600 price tag. Then again, it’s up to consumers and their wallets to decide what kind of early 5G experience they’re willing to buy, especially since 5G service will be beyond scarce in the early days.