5G phones to overtake 4G in 2023, research firm says

Hopefully, data plans will keep up with the increase in speed.

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5G is coming to take over the mobile world.

Ian Knighton/CNET

Even though there're only a couple of phones that are 5G-enabled, carriers across the globe have already begun testing their 5G networks. They're preparing for the big upgrade in data speed that one research firm says will be the norm in four years. 

5G phones will outsell their 4G counterparts in 2023, according to researcher Canalys on Monday. The firm estimates most of the 5G adoption will take place in China, thanks to the government and tech companies based in the country. 

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"China is also home to many major 5G equipment suppliers and smartphone vendors, which will be responsible for an aggressive marketing push over the next few years," Nicole Peng, vice president of mobility at Canalys, said in the release. "But mass market adoption of 5G smartphones does not necessarily mean a successful 5G deployment. Full 5G deployment will take much longer, and be much more complex than the previous network generation, in order to realize the benefits of 5G beyond eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband)."

Canalys estimates 5G phones will reach approximately 800 million units and have 51.4% of the market share. Of that number, China will account for 34% of the number with North America making up 18.8%. 

So far, the 5G-enabled phones available to buy are the Galaxy S10 5G,  LG V50 ThinQ, OnePlus 7 ProOppo Reno 5G and Motorola's Moto Z4 with the 5G Moto mod. 

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