realme to set up seven 5G R&D centres including in India

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on July 24, 2021

Plans afoot to bring 5G-enabled phones in the sub-₹10,000 range

Smartphone-maker realme is gung-ho about 5G devices as it looks to be a major disruptor – both spec-wise and in terms of price – across the segment. Already, No 3 player in India, by sales, the device-maker is eyeing to bring 5G-enabled phones in the sub-₹10,000 range.

In the short-run, all devices priced above ₹15,000 will be 5G enabled.

According to Madhav Sheth, Vice-President, realme and Chief Executive Officer, realme India & Europe, the company is investing $300 million globally in the next two years towards research on 5G technology and there are plans to set up dedicated seven 5G R&D centres, including one in India. Nearly 90 per cent of realme’s resources have already been “converted to develop 5G technology and products”.

In an interview to BusinessLine, Sheth talks about realme’s 5G experience in Europe and its India plans. Edited excerpts:

What are realme India’s 5G plans?

We are undergoing internal 5G transformation and 90 per cent of our R&D resources have been converted to develop 5G technology and products. In the next two years, we will invest $300 million globally in research and product development on the 5G tech. This includes setting up seven 5G R&D centres including in India.

As a 5G democratiser, all new realme products above ₹15,000 will be 5G-enabled. We are also working on bringing 5G phones in the sub-₹10,000 range.

realme GT 5G series, expected to be launched this quarter, will be the flagship 5G segment in India. This apart, offerings will be introduced under the narzo (the mid to mid-premium range) segment, too.

Is the ecosystem ready for 5G?

The ecosystem is shaping up well. Handsets are being developed steadily with the OEMs and chipset vendors optimising their resources for 5G development. Similarly, telcos are investing in developing indigenous 5G use cases, while fiberisation is being actively discussed. The Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIOT) industry is also sensing an opportunity in the 5G era and has been increasing.

Who will be these first adopters of 5G — consumers, companies, manufacturing businesses?

Prime entrants or earliest adopters will be consumers with smartphones. Whether it’s AR/VR-led video streaming or consumption with enhanced mobile broadband, gaming on the Cloud, or connected homes, the immediate benefits are huge. We also see 5G having an immense impact across healthcare, e-retail and manufacturing. So companies in these sectors are also expected to be amongst the first responders to the new tech.

Have 5G phones started gaining traction?

In May 2021, 5G phones contributed to nearly 40 per cent of our total smartphone revenue with the success of realme 8 5G, narzo 30 pro 5G, etc.

How are 4G devices going to play out in your business model?

4G smart-phones will continue to be another spoke driving realme India’s volumes. While certain demographies will be the first adopters of 5G, there will be large sections of consumers who will still prefer 4G offerings.

What are your learning in Europe, especially on 5G?

realme launched four 5G devices in Europe; while globally, we launched 14 devices (5G enabled ones), accounting for around 40 per cent of our total new launches. By 2022, we aim to increase the number of its 5G offerings to over 20, íncreasing the ratio to 70 per cent of device portfolio across 50 markets. realme also plans to take the industry lead in launching a 5G mobile phone at a $100 price point in the next few years to improve adoption in the rapidly emerging economies.

Published on July 23, 2021

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