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5G's Impact on RF Front-End Module and Connectivity for Cell phones 2019

  • ID: 4831764
  • Report
  • 220 Pages
  • System Plus Consulting
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  • Active Semi
  • Docomo
  • Jio
  • OnePlus
  • SMIC
  • T-Mobile
  • MORE

What’s new

  • Mobile phone units and segmentation
  • RF front-end market segmentation (types of modules and discrete parts, air standard, connectivity, and front-end)
  • Extensive RF front-end market share analysis for each type of module and discrete part
  • GPS/GNSS market included in the connectivity segment

Key features

  • RF front-end and connectivity market forecast 2018 – 2025, in Mu and $M
  • Market share in $M, per player and device type
  • RF front-end technology breakdown forecast
  • Wafer-start prediction 2018 – 2025 for compound semiconductor, silicon-based technologies (CMOS, SiGe, RFSOI), and piezoelectric material (LT, LN)

RF Front-End Market is Driven by OEM's Strategy
Familiarity with the mobile phone’s RF front-end architecture is critical to understanding this market. Leveraging the author's extensive teardown analysis (more than 50 phone teardowns realized), Yole Développement (Yole) has built an overall picture of RF front-end architecture. The main phone manufacturers differentiate from each other in the RF field by adopting either an integrated or a discrete approach. In the former segment, market leaders Samsung and Apple, along with smaller OEMs like Sony, LG, Google, and ZTE, are moving towards integration with complex RF modules from Broadcom, Skyworks, Qorvo, Qualcomm, and Murata. “Integrated” players prefer to focus on the user experience with innovative features like “Face ID”, wireless charging, AI camera, gesture recognition, and the human machine interface, thus leaving most of the RF front-end’s complexities to the RF module makers.

Meanwhile, markets challengers like Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo, which drive as much volume as the market leaders, favour a discrete approach whenever possible. This allows them to keep the RF bill-of-materials (BoM) as low as possible in order to offer aggressive selling prices in this competitive market.

A comparison of teardowns for Huawei’s P20 Pro and Samsung’s S10 illustrates these opposing strategies. The P20 Pro RF board is made of 45 discrete components and four integrated modules (incorporating 25 components), while the Samsung S10 comprises 17 discrete components and eight integrated modules (incorporating 71 components). Consequently, the BoM for the RF front-end in the S10 ends up being double that of the P20 Pro, even though both devices exhibit similar downlink-speed performance. Also, both devices support more than 30 bands and use similar technologies, such as carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO.

5G radio’s introduction in mobile phones definitely adds more complexity to the already complicated RF front-end, and it is likely to exacerbate the phenomenon since price pressure on the RF front-end will be even bigger. Indeed, 5G’s penetration rate in smartphones will depend not only on network availability and proposed use-cases but also on device affordability at the consumer level. Accordingly, we can expect a 30% ratio of discrete components in value to be maintained from 2018-2025.

If LTE and 5G components are cumulated in 5G mobile phones to ensure either the “non-standalone mode’s” operation or for a 5G non-covered area to be connected with LTE, then the question of whether 5G sub-6 GHz and 5G mmWave will both be integrated into the phone is not so straightforward. The cost-over-benefit ratio for the consumer could be too high – plus, a spectrum-holding analysis of the world’s main carriers suggests a divided approach. For example, the first 5G devices were released with different SKUs, depending on whether the carrier integrated a sub-6 GHz radio link or a mmWave radio link. Ultimately, 5G could lead to a regionalization phenomenon instead of being globalized, as was the case earlier for LTE.

An Intensifying Competition Towards an Evolving Market Share
Leveraging the author’s teardown analysis, a highly detailed market share is provided in this report. The RF front-end leaders still share 81% of the market, with Murata leading ahead of Skyworks and Broadcom. Qualcomm, which is already strong in LNA, is catching up along with Qorvo, thanks to the aggregation of TDK Epcos’ filter business. Established companies like Infineon, Sony, Taiyo Yuden, NXP, and Wisol also possess a market slice. These companies generally have manufacturing capabilities for supplying LNA, switches, tuners, and filters, which gives OEMs an alternative to the RF front-end market leaders. Moreover, a variety of fabless companies are emerging, especially in China. Unisoc RDA, Airoha, Richwave, Smarter Micro, Huntersun, and Maxscend are several examples of players scoring more and more design wins amongst the Chinese OEM brands. Obviously, foundries and design houses support this business model for compound semiconductor, silicon, and even acoustic wave filter.

For each player in the RF front-end, a market share breakdown by component is included in this report, along with a company outlook describing each player’s development strategy for 5G and beyond.

Complete Teardown With

  • Detailed photos
  • Precise measurements
  • Complete bills-of-materials of the modules
  • Comparison between suppliers
  • Comparison between OEMs
  • Comparison with 2017 and 2018 smartphones
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
2 of 4


  • Active Semi
  • Docomo
  • Jio
  • OnePlus
  • SMIC
  • T-Mobile
  • MORE

1. Glossary and definition

2. Table of contents

3. Report scope

4. What we got right, What we got wrong

5. Executive summary

6. Market forecasts

  • Market forecast in $M by RF component & air standard
  • Component forecast in Mu
  • Technology breakdown by component in Mu
  • Wafer start per technology in kw

7. Market trends

  • 5G mobile market dynamics
  • 5G use cases review
  • Status of network rollout
  • Current and future 5G spectrum

8. Market shares and supply chain

  • Smartphone and feature phone market share
  • Overall RF front end market share
  • Component per component market share
  • Players ranking with financial analysis
  • Company profile
  • Status on M&A
  • Ecosystem and business model analysis
  • Supply chain analysis (IDM, foundry and OSAT)

9. Technology trends

  • Radio access technology trend
  • PA technology status
  • Switch roadmap overview
  • Filter technology review (BAW vs emerging thin film SAW, IPD)
  • Antenna tuning technology status

10. Outlooks

  • Conclusions
  • Related reports
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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4 of 4
  • Active Semi
  • Airoha
  • Akoustis
  • Apple
  • ASE
  • Asus
  • AT&T
  • AwinIC
  • Broadcom
  • CanaanTek
  • Cavendish Kinetics
  • China Mobile
  • China Telecom
  • China Unicom
  • Chip Bond
  • CoolPad
  • CSMC
  • Cypress
  • Docomo
  • EE
  • Elisa
  • Etisalat
  • GlobalFoundries
  • Google
  • HH Grace
  • HiSilicon
  • HMD Global
  • HTC
  • Huatian
  • Huawei
  • Huntersun
  • Inari Technology
  • Infineon
  • Intel
  • IQE
  • Itel
  • JCET
  • Jio
  • JRC
  • KDDI
  • KT
  • Kyocera
  • Lansus
  • Lenovo
  • LG
  • LG U+
  • Maxscend
  • MediaTek
  • Meizu
  • Mobile
  • Monaco Telecom
  • Murata
  • NationZ
  • NTT
  • NXP
  • ON Semiconductor
  • OnePlus
  • Ooredoo
  • Oppo
  • Orange
  • Psemi
  • Qorvo
  • Qualcomm
  • Quantenna
  • RDA
  • Resonant
  • Richwave
  • Samsung
  • Samsung Electro Mechanical
  • Semiconductor
  • Shoulder
  • ShunSin technology
  • SK Telecom
  • Skyworks
  • Smarter Micro
  • SMIC
  • SoftBank
  • Soitec
  • Sony
  • SPIL
  • Spreadtrum
  • Sprint
  • ST Microecletronics
  • STC
  • Sunrise
  • Swisscom
  • T-Mobile
  • TaiyoYuden
  • TCL
  • Tecno
  • Telefonica
  • Telia
  • Telstra
  • TIM
  • Toshiba
  • TowerJazz
  • Tpsco
  • TSMC
  • UMC
  • Unisem
  • USI
  • Vanchip
  • Verizon
  • VIVA
  • Vivo
  • Vodafone
  • WillSemi
  • WIN Semiconductors
  • Wisol
  • Xiaomi
  • Xpeedic
  • Yuzhen IC
  • ZTE
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown