2022 will mark a turning point for 5G smartphone adoption. With the magnitude of investment from telecom service providers in 2021, 5G networks are expected to be commercialised in more countries by 2022. This year set the ball rolling as incumbents introduced new 5G models and reshaped their portfolios. In parallel, chipset manufacturers have optimised their R&D efforts for 5G processors to enhance adoption. As a result, 5G-enabled smartphones with cutting edge processors will become more affordable, as companies will introduce new models across the mid to premium spectrum. Technology is a great leveller. As 5G chipsets get more democratised, I believe it will break the threshold of pre-defined price segments, and even mark a presence in the sub-10k, entry-level smartphone category soon.

As the economy recovers in the post-pandemic landscape, consumer preferences are also getting more evolved and nuanced. Users will demand more flagships with top-notch specs, such as game experience, great cameras, fast charging solutions, long-lasting battery life or powerful processors. There will be more emphasis on bringing flagship product ranges for a more sophisticated, universal but superlative experience. With the rise in e-sports and immersive gaming, performance-oriented processors and displays with high refresh rates will see higher traction among gamers. While there will be a certain audience for a holistic, flagship experience to everyday users, smartphone makers will race to build distinct product lines which satiate the gaming communities with high-end, power-packed processors.

When it comes to form factors of smartphones itself, we have seen a marked shift in preferences. While consumers want advanced processors in their smartphones, at the same time, they want them to be more lightweight and compact. Achieving this balance is not easy. We will see OEMs investing more in R&D to shift away from bulky forms to highly slim and thin builds.

Today, consumers are not just simply looking for products with a stack of superior features, but they want to play an active role in the brand’s journey and evolution. Smartphone brands would like to explore co-creation with consumers to build more creative capital and drive innovation. What we have observed is that the youth demand novelty and they want to break the status quo, especially in design. We expect to see more and more collaborations with fashion influencers and renowned designers to breathe fresh, new vibrancy in aesthetics.

Chipset shortage has always been a global issue for several industries, including smartphones. To reduce dependency on global supply chains, more and more smartphone brands will explore partnerships with emerging OEMs and vendors to localise chipset production. This will also help spur local manufacturing and have a faster go-to-market turnaround. Some smartphone brands even develop their chipsets to boost their internal capabilities in a critical area.

Lastly, I believe that consumers today want to be a part of a connected, intelligent ecosystem that meets all their needs. Smartphones have emerged from being just a preferred medium for addressing daily needs to a core hub that connects different technology solutions. These include smart screens, wearables, hearables, smart home and personal care products. With the power of 5G and IoT, we are looking at a future where all devices will be interconnected and can be controlled/monitored through a single hub.

In such a sense, smartphones will not just be a conduit for building connections or linking you to the outside world. It will act as a command centre, effectively operating all digital devices in your lifestyle, with just a single click. Hence, it’s not just enough to be known as a smartphone brand, but also evolve into a full-scale technology brand with versatile solutions to empower everyday life.

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