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Consumers who are already on unlimited data plans are more likely to be an early investor in a 5G smartphone along with millennials however researchers have warned that 2019 will not be the year for 5G adoption.

As several brands rolled out new early model 5G handsets at Mobile World Congress this week in anticipation of carriers rolling out limited networks in Australia new research has revealed that more than two thirds of consumers (64 percent) were aware of 5G by the end of 2018, up from 44 percent just six months prior.

According to the latest Mobile Connectivity Report from NPD Connected Intelligence, 33 percent of smartphone owners are already expressing an interest in owning a 5G-enabled handset once they become available.

Not surprisingly, the percentage skews higher for consumers with unlimited data plans at 43 percent, as they can best take advantage of the supercharged data flow, while 49 percent of millennials also appear keen for a 5G phone, making it the most likely consumer group to take the high-speed plunge.

“In the last several days we’ve seen the first 5G-enabled smartphone announcements, and as expected the devices are coming with a premium price tag … and a slightly larger form factor … than what consumers have become accustomed to,” said Brad Akyuz, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “While consumer sentiment is positive, cost, form factor and availability of 5G services will ultimately determine whether consumers will upgrade to 5G-enabled smartphones to enjoy much faster connection speeds.”

Akyuz further cautioned in an NPD blog that while 5G is the talk of this week’s MWC19 mobile exhibition in Barcelona, “We shouldn’t hold our breath for OEMs flooding the show with their next generation 5G smartphones. There will be a few 5G device unveilings for sure, alongside several early concept models that will be commercially available later in the year, but it’s important to realize that this is not going to be the year of 5G phones, or at least not until towards the end of the year.”

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