IMC 2022: Airtel expects ultra-affordable 5G smartphones to come next year

IMC 2022: Airtel expects ultra-affordable 5G smartphones to come next year

A 5G smartphone priced under Rs 10,000 could be a reality next year, signals telecom operator Airtel at the ongoing India Mobile Congress in New Delhi. In an interview with, Airtel’s Chief Technology Officer Randeep Sekhon said “ a good spec phone with 5G” costing anywhere between Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 price bracket should be available by next year. Sekhon called the budget smartphone segment “the golden bracket,” which is critical for the mass adoption of 5G in the world’s second-most populous country.

The average price of a 5G smartphone in India starts at Rs 13,000, which is still on the higher side for a feature phone user. Mobile phone makers such as Xiaomi and Realme do offer budget 5G phones but they are yet to launch low-cost 5G smartphones under Rs 10,000. The only player that does offer a budget 5G phone is Lava, but that also sells for Rs 10,000.

The lower cost of smartphones could attract more users to sign up for 5G services, the next generation of wireless technology that’s expected to change how we work and live. Right now, the hype around 5G is all about speed. A full HD movie could be downloaded in just 12 seconds, thanks to enhanced speed. But there are other advantages of 5G like reduced latency and greater bandwidth.

At the India Mobile Congress, which claims to be Asia’s largest technology forum, Airtel made its 5G services live in eight cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi and Bengaluru. The operator, however, has yet to announce tariff plans for 5G services. “For a common person, 5G will enable users to do those remote things in a more resilient way and fix the challenges that we have today,” Sekhon said.

In a recent study by the Swedish network gear maker Ericsson, over 100 million smartphone users, with 5G phones, want to upgrade to a 5G subscription in 2023. India is likely to have 70 to 80 million 5G smartphones by the end of 2022, according to market trackers. The smartphone market in India is expected to reach 1 billion users by 2026 with rural areas driving sales of internet-enabled devices, a Deloitte study claims.


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