Mainly due to the promotion of TD-LTE by China Mobile, global demand for entry-level LTE smartphones for sale at around US$200 and mid-range models at about US$300 is expected to take off in 2014, according to Taiwan-based handset supply chain makers.
LTE smartphones are mostly high-end models with sales prices of above US$500 currently. Global LTE smartphone shipments in 2013 are estimated at nearly 300 million units, taking up 30% of total smartphone shipments, the sources noted.
However, LTE will increasingly come into commercial operation in China, India and other emerging markets beginning 2014, and demand for entry-level and mid-range LTE-enabled smartphones will emerge, the sources said. In the China market, for example, demand for LTE smartphones in 2014 is forecast at 30-50 million units.
In addition to China Mobile's promotions, Qualcomm's and Taiwan-based MediaTek's offering of LTE-supporting reference chip solutions has significantly reduced technological barriers for developing LTE smartphones, the sources pointed out.
China-based vendors are poised to develop entry-level and mid-range TD-LTE smartphones specifically for the China market, the sources noted. Such smartphones can also be exported to emerging markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America as almost all of those models support FDD LTE as well, the sources said. In addition, vendors including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and Nokia plan to extend their LTE smartphone product line from high-end models to mid-range and even entry-level ones, the sources indicated.