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5G phone prices are set to decline

July 15,2019
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Samsung Electronics President Koh Dong-jin presents the A80 at an event in Bangkok in April. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]
5G phone prices are set to plummet as mobile manufacturers and carriers seek to increase the number of subscribers utilizing the high-speed network.

Mobile carriers and Samsung Electronics are aiming to offer new devices for under 1 million won ($848), a significant discount to current prices.

“Apart from the Note10, Samsung Electronics will continuously present smartphones that are much more competitive in terms of price compared to prior models from next month,” a mobile carrier source told the JoongAng Ilbo on Thursday.

Two 5G phones are currently available: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, costing 1.43 million won, and the V50 ThinQ by LG Electronics, costing 1.19 million won.

These high prices were seen as a significant barrier for anyone but the most enthusiastic early adopters.

Samsung’s lower-priced 5G phone is likely to be in the Galaxy A series, the budget lineup aimed for the Chinese market.

In May, Samsung’s local market share dropped as the price of the LG V50 fell below 100,000 won due to subsidy competition among mobile carriers. According to IT industry sources, Samsung plans to release the most recent Galaxy A series phone, the A90, as a 5G model.

The Galaxy A90 will be released in 4G LTE and a 5G versions. The 5G model is expected to come with Qualcomm’s most recent application processor, the Snapdragon 855, a 6.7-inch screen and a triple camera.

From late last year, Samsung shifted its strategy and started to include high-end functions on budget A-series phones.

The A80, a slightly lower-end model than the A90, has a rotating camera that can shoot from the front and the back. In Europe, it’s sold at 649 euros ($730).

LG is preparing to release a derivative model of the V50 in the second half of the year. Users will be able to receive calls and messages on a dual screen. The price will be lower than the original V50.

LG plans to introduce this new model during the IFA 2019 that will take place in September this year in Berlin.

If budget 5G phones are released in the market next month, the war among Korea’s three mobile carriers will likely heat up.

In a Wednesday press release, LG U+ announced that there was “a sign of change in the five-to-three-to-two market share in the mobile carrier market,” with each number referring to the respective shares of SK Telecom, KT and LG U+. “In our internal research, we found that [LG U+’s] share of 5G subscribers surpassed 29 percent as of late June,” the statement added.

BY KIM YOUNG-MIN [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]