Is this a good time to buy a 5G smartphone in India or should we be waiting for yet another question that is frequently asked to us these days in India Today Tech’s weekly Q&A videos. This is a very important question but difficult to answer. There is still no confirmation of when the latest network connectivity will be available in the country, although at least two telecom operators Reliance Jio and Airtel have confirmed they are working on the same. Yet the market is already teeming with smartphones that support 5G and some of them are even marketing it as their main selling point.
For some, it may come as a surprise that nearly every smartphone maker, including Apple, has embarked on the 5G movement, months before there was a word on its availability in the country, but it is common. to create a hype around an upcoming technology that not only allows telecom operators to test it, but also leaves a possibility of lower prices as the technology becomes mainstream.
Things are not that easy for customers. They still have to make the tough decision to spend more and get a 5G smartphone right now, hoping that connectivity will roll out soon or opting for a feature-packed smartphone with 4G support and hoping to be able to. trust it for the next time. 18 to 24 months, without losing much. Either way, it’s not an easy call.
Brief history of 5G smartphones in India
To make an informed decision, it is important to know how 5G smartphones have evolved in India. It was around the same time last year when the first smartphone supporting 5G launched in the country. In fact, there were two. In as many days. The Realme X50 Pro and the iQOO 3 both launched in February 2020 and cost over Rs 40,000 for the 5G variant. Most smartphones equipped with this technology were priced higher for the next few months OnePlus 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 12 series. Even Xiaomi’s Mi 10 raised eyebrows for its price tag of over 50,000 rupees with support for 5G.
Things have changed a bit since then. We already have more aggressively priced 5G smartphones in India. The OnePlus North was the first of its kind, bringing the experience to less than Rs 25,000. An experience that we still have to live. Now we have 5G smartphones such as Mi 10i and Realme X7 selling for around the Rs 20,000 mark, while Realm CEO Madhav Sheth has previously hinted that the Realme Narzo series may include the 5G phone. the most affordable in the country to date. Meanwhile, the Redmi Note 10 series could bring the technology at an even more aggressive price point.
The point we’re trying to make here is that the cost of 5G phones has dropped by almost 50% over the past 12 months. This has come even as the rollout is unclear and the trend is also expected to continue over the next few months.
What do we know about the deployment of 5G?
Only two telecom operators have hinted they are set to roll out 5G in the country Reliance Jio and Airtel. Of these, only Airtel shared a few details. The telecommunications giant recently announced that it has successfully conducted field leads in Hyderabad to establish 5G capability and has become the first service provider to demonstrate its 5G network capability prior to deployment. Jio, on the other hand, had said he had built a local 5G solution and would be ready to launch his service by the second half of 2021. However, there has not been a word from the company since then.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is holding an auction for 5G frequency bands next month. The auction will take place for the 700 MHz to 2,500 MHz bands in March 2021. Globally, the 3,300-3,600 MHz bands are more popular. Even if the auction is successful, it will still be months before 5G technology is deployed and becomes accessible in the country.
A recent report submitted to parliament said the government expects 5G services to be rolled out by early 2022 after another spectrum auction is expected to take place in six months. This means that mass adaptation is unlikely to happen before 2022, at least.
Where does that leave buyers?
Smartphone buyers generally want value for their money. Policies and plans are just plain text to them. By following this simple logic, it’s okay to buy a 5G phone right now, but buying a phone because of 5G won’t be the smartest decision. Most of the phones launched last year with 5G would already be obsolete in other departments by the time the technology rolls out in the country. Some of them will also require upgrades.
No matter how much smartphone makers talk about 5G, it shouldn’t be your top priority when making a purchasing decision. The best way to go about it would be if you had a smartphone that still works and can last a few months, stick with it. If for some reason you need to upgrade, rate the smartphone on other factors: display, design, battery, camera, performance, price, or whatever else you want except 5G.
Another interesting aspect is that two of the most sought after segments in India under Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 still have no or few options with 5G support. This will change quickly. By the time 5G finally arrives in India, there will be more and more options to choose from.