The first wave of 5G handsets are here

BARCELONA–Ahead of Mobile World Congress Barcelona, three major smartphone providers–Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei–all unveiled their first 5G capable smartphones.

At its Unpacked events in San Francisco and London, Samsung showed off its Galaxy S10 5G device. Samsung’s Drew Blackard called 5G “the key to our connected future. 5G represents our biggest step forward yet. It’ll be faster than any network we’ve ever seen. Second, it’ll be capable of just a millisecond of latency…That opens the door for some incredible new possibilities. Third, it can bring on as many as 1 million devices per square kilometer. Soon network congestion will be a thing of the past.”

The new handset uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC including the X50 5G modem and millimeter wave antenna modules. Verizon will be the first U.S. carrier to offer the 5G device sometime in the first half of 2019.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, appearing alongside Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh, said, “It’s just amazing that finally were standing here at the brink of bringing 5G to the market.”

At an event in Barcelona, up-and-coming Chinese smartphone OEM Xiaomi detailed its first 5G device, the Mi Mix 3, which also uses the Snapdragon 855 SoC.  This device is set for a May release and will be priced at $679. While Samsung hasn’t set the price for its 5G Galaxy device, it’ll likely come at a significantly higher price point than Xiaomi’s offering.  The S10 Plus device will retail for $999, so the 5G version will almost certainly cost more than that.

Huawei, the second biggest smartphone vendor in the world behind Samsung, also showed off its Mate X device, which it said will support 5G and also features a foldable design. This one will sell for a whopping $2,600. For context, Samsung also showed its Galaxy Fold device at the Unpacked event; that one is set to cost around $2,000–so clearly a niche market but understandable given this is the first generation of this new type of device.

“This phone is not only for today for 5G but also for future 5G,” Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business group said at a launch event. “On all the benchmarks you can see the performance, the speed is the fastest for 5G in the world.”

Both Samsung and Huawei have telecom infrastructure businesses and claim their work in developing networks gives them an edge in developing compatible devices.


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