Shipments of 5G phones in China reached 485,000 units in the third quarter of this year, according to global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
According to the latest IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, most of these units were flagships priced over 700 U.S. dollars, but there was also activity in lower price bands.
Vivo gained an early lead by releasing two 5G models in one month, breaking into both the over 700-dollar high-end via offline channels, as well as pushing into a lower 450 to 550-dollar range via online channels.
In contrast, Huawei and Samsung were contained to the high-end, while ZTE and China Mobile landed in the 600 to 650-dollar range. Xiaomi was able to occupy the 450 to 550-dollar segment, according to the report.
Fifth-generation network construction in China has been picking up quickly with the support of the government and policies around co-construction and sharing between operators. But wider geographic coverage will take time, and IDC expects that device shipments will lead subscriber numbers for now.
"Fortunately, data tariffs are priced attractively against 4G, complete with tiering by speed for different user needs," IDC said, adding that it expects a significant amount of industry momentum to drive volumes in 2020.