While major smartphone brands have invested in phones that support the next-generation 5G network – even ahead of its commercialisation phase – responses from consumers may offer some comfort to support those investment decisions, with a new Ericsson survey finding that average phone users are willing to pay a 20 per cent premium for 5G. Among the group of early adopters of smartphone technology, half say they are even willing to pay as much as a 32 per cent premium for the 5G devices even though wide adoption of the network won’t officially kick off until next year, according to the report released on Tuesday. However, higher internet speed alone won’t be enough: four out of 10 of the big-spenders expect new apps and services from their 5G plan, according to Ericsson, a Swedish 5G equipment vendor that competes with global peers including China’s Huawei Technologies and the Finnish Nokia Corp. 5G smartphone shipments are expected to expand 255 per cent by 2021, almost reaching 110 million units, according to a research note from Counterpoint issued on April 16. The researcher expects growth to be slow during the initial commercialisation phase in 2019, but sees an uptick in sales once countries shift from non-stand-alone to stand-alone 5G infrastructure. “There are still forward looking 5G standards that are unconfirmed, creating uncertainty around product and service opportunities. We also expect 5G chips to have a higher price point which will initially drive the cost of devices up. 5G capable devices will be premium only in the beginning,” Counterpoint research director Tom Kang said in the report. How 5G will fast track the internet of things Major Android-smartphone vendors have all tested and some have even released 5G-enabled devices after US chip vendor Qualcomm late last year unveiled its flagship 5G mobile processor, the Snapdragon 855. Earlier this year, Huawei released its in-house designed Balong 5000 chipset, which will first be used in its Mate X series, a foldable and 5G-enabled handset ready for shipment starting June this year. On Monday, ZTE Corp, the Shenzhen-based company that was fined more than US$2 billion for breaching US export rules, unveiled its newest flagship smartphone, the Axon 10 Pro 5G for the Chinese market, equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. Last month, Apple announced it had settled an acrimonious two-year legal fight with Qualcomm and signed a six-year licensing deal with the latter under which it will use Qualcomm chips for its iPhones. Intel, a major chipset supplier for Apple, subsequently announced it would withdraw from the market for 5G smartphone chips. Apple is already late offering smartphones that support the next-generation networks, deciding to hold off until at least 2020 before launching 5G-enabled iPhones, according to an earlier Bloomberg report, citing people familiar with its plans. Huawei says 5G security is a technical, not a country issue The Ericsson study was based on 35,000 interviews with smartphone users aged 15 to 69, from 22 different countries. Ericsson said the large survey sample meant the views expressed were representative of almost 1 billion people. The Swedish firm has publicly announced 18 5G deals globally as of March 2019, according to its website. The Ericsson report noted that consumers in China, South Korea, the US, Italy and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are likely to become the first batch of 5G users in the world.