4 Reasons Why 5G Smartphones Are So Expensive

4 Reasons Why 5G Smartphones Are So Expensive

5G smartphones haven’t been around for long, but they all have people asking why they come with such a hefty price tag. If you’re one of those people, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 4 reasons why 5G smartphones are more expensive:

  1. 5G Smartphones are a new phenomenon
  2. 5G Modems are more expensive
  3. 5G Infrastructure is expensive
  4. Smartphone component prices have been increasing

Read on to learn more about why 5G-ready smartphones cost so much. We’ll discuss whether it’s worth investing in one and some things you should consider when choosing a smartphone.

1. 5G Smartphones Are a New Phenomenon

5G Smartphones Are a New Phenomenon
5G Smartphones on display in a store.

In 2020, the major players in the tech industry started debuting their 5G-equipped smartphones and gadgets. Samsung was the first to unveil their first-ever 5G Galaxy S20 lineup at the start of the year. 

Soon after, Apple followed up with an all-5G iPhone 12 lineup. Since then, 5G has been a standard in all flagship smartphones. While it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon and spend some extra money on a 5G smartphone, you should know a few things first. 

Because the technology is still relatively new, the 5G coverage is not nearly where it should be to enjoy its perks across the globe fully. It will take 5G years to reach the coverage that its predecessor, 4G, currently has. 

There is a significant jump in speeds when comparing 4G and 5G, with average speeds growing from 50 to 400 Mbps and peak speeds increasing tenfold from 1 GB to 10 GB.

When comparing the evolution of 3G to 4G smartphones in the early 2010s, the gadgets equipped with the most recent technology cost only $50 to $100 more. Compared to 4G smartphones, a 5G device will cost you at least $250 more than smartphones released a year before 5G antennas became the industry standard.

Because 5G technology is still in its early days, so are 5G smartphones. The newest, shiniest gadgets are always expensive, which is why you will have difficulty finding an inexpensive 5G-enabled smartphone.

The good news is that, like any other technology, 5G smartphones will eventually become more affordable as more locations support 5G and devices compatible with it become more widely available.

2. 5G Modems Are More Expensive

5G Modems Are More Expensive
With Intel leaving the mobile modem market Qualcomm Modems have taken the lead.

Modems being more expensive is directly related to the fact that 5G technology is still a relatively new phenomenon. As a result, 5G modems are much more costly than their predecessors, and production is limited. 

Because of the high cost of modems, the cost of producing 5G smartphones rises, driving up consumer prices.

Additionally, phone manufacturers must accommodate the high speeds that 5G provides. This accommodation includes making larger batteries and faster chips to handle the high speeds that 5G technology offers.

You might have noticed that your phone battery dies much faster when using data. When using 5G, the battery drains even quicker because of its high speeds, forcing the tech giants to maximize the 5G smartphone’s battery lives.

3. 5G Infrastructure Is Expensive

5G Infrastructure Is Expensive
The cost of the continued rollout of the U.S. 5G infrastructure Is massive and expensive.

It’s not enough to simply add 5G capabilities to a smartphone. If there aren’t any 5G towers nearby, the feature might as well be useless.

Just as it happened before with 4G, new infrastructure will have to be built to get 5G coverage to cities and towns. This requirement means building many towers, a considerable investment partly taken on by carriers and manufacturers.

This infrastructure cost technically isn’t a part of the phone you’ll buy, but it’s an added cost to big corporations that trickles down to the consumer price.

To make matters worse, building 5G towers is particularly expensive. It can cost anywhere from 250,000 to 1.2 million to create one. And unlike 4G, 5G can’t travel very far or penetrate dense obstacles, which means that many towers have to be built to bring 5G coverage to an average city.

All of this makes building a 5G infrastructure a costly endeavor, and one that will take many years to achieve, just as it took many years to bring 4G to most populated areas. And because of the reduced range of 5G, the upgrade will be slower and more expensive this time.

4. Smartphone Component Prices Have Been Increasing

Smartphone Prices Have Been Increasing
Smartphone prices have been increasing because of the rising price of raw materials like iron ore shown in the picture above.

While there’s no doubt that the 5G technology is making smartphones more expensive, it’s not just about the 5G. Smartphone prices have been significantly increasing over the last ten years.

5G connectivity hasn’t been the only innovation in recent years. Tech giants have constantly been working on improving several components, most notably cameras and displays.

In 2017, Apple announced the iPhone X with a hefty $999 price tag. Back then, it was unheard of, and many fans were disappointed, but it was only a taste of what the future of smartphone pricing would hold.

Nowadays, nobody bats an eye when the most prominent phone brands ask for one thousand dollars for their flagship phones. The general price increase has been driven by several facts, including the price increase of raw materials, supply chain disruptions, and the advancement of various smartphone parts.

One such example is the recent trend of including multiple cameras in smartphones. Previously, the most expensive component of a smartphone was the screen. However, rising customer demands for camera quality have pushed cameras to the top of the list of factors driving up the cost of smartphones.

The rising cost of manufacturing smartphones naturally leads to increased prices for consumers. With breakthrough technologies such as 5G, professional-level camera systems, and high-end displays, the prices are expected to keep rising as the technology advances.

Buying a 5G Smartphone

Buying a 5G Smartphone
Deciding what kind of 5G Smartphone you want?

As previously said, 5G technology is relatively new to the market. If you don’t reside in a big city, 5G service will unlikely be accessible in your region soon. It will take years for 5G infrastructure to reach even the most densely populated locations, let alone smaller towns worldwide. 

The good news is that 4G will be around for at least the next decade. Don’t be concerned if you’re in the market for a new smartphone but aren’t sure if 5G is available where you live.

If you want to use your new smartphone for several years, the 5G option may be better, making your new device more future-proof. However, be sure to verify 5G coverage in your area. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine if investing in a 5G smartphone is the best decision for you. It would help if you also kept in mind that as time passes and technology improves, there will be fewer alternatives that solely support 4G networks.

Even though 5G infrastructure is slowly making its way throughout the world, the transition to 4G from 3G was only completed in 2013. Since then, most new smartphones have been 4G compatible, and networks are phasing out the 3G technology in the US in 2022. This change means that any 4G compatible gadget will be functional for years without access to the faster speeds that 5G has to offer.


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John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness. https://techevaluate.com/author-bio-page-john-w-mortensen/

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