Mobile

5G smartphones are coming in 2019

Your next smartphone is going to be a lot faster in 2019 thanks to the launch of the world’s first 5G-ready mobile devices.

All of these phone makers have signed on to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem, making way for multi-gigabit per second downloads and lower latency

Mobile World Congress, which kicks off on Feb. 25 in Barcelona this year, will be hot. Besides foldable phones and hole-punch cameras, another trend we’ll see at this year’s event will be 5G.

And we’re not just talking about tests and promises of crazy-fast internet speeds sometime in the future — we’ll actually see several new 5G phones at the show.

Today, two major smartphone manufacturers, LG and Huawei, announced they would be launching 5G devices at the show.

LG, which is known for trickling out details about upcoming devices ahead of major launches, said on Thursday it would unveil its first-ever 5G smartphone at the MWC.

It’s unclear whether this is a variant of the LG G8, which is also likely to be launched at the event, or a different device. We know some of its specs, though: It will be powered by Qulacomm’s latest and greatest chip, the Snapdragon 855. It’ll also have a 4,000mAh battery and a vapor chamber cooling system which should do a better job at keeping the phone cool than traditional systems, including heat pipes.

As for LG’s other announcement, the company recently released a teaser video hinting at a new, touch-less UI for its devices. No other details were unveiled.

Huawei will also have a 5G phone at the show, the company announced at a Beijing event Thursday (check out the video below at 1:11:00 . Even better: Huawei will combine this year’s major trends into one by launching a foldable 5G smartphone.

No other details about the phone were revealed, but it sounds like it’ll be a separate device from Huawei’s P30 Pro, which is also expected to launch at MWC or shortly afterwards. With companies such as Samsung and Xiaomi teasing foldable phones of their own, it’ll be interesting to see what the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer has in stock.

While we don’t know much about Huawei’s upcoming phone, we know a little bit about its 5G chip, Balong 5000. It can achieve download speeds up to 4.6Gbps or 6.5Gbps, depending on the spectrum used. We’ll see the chip in phones, home routers and other 5G devices, though don’t expect to see it used much in the U.S., whose officials have lately been publicly warning against the use of Huawei equipment due to fears of espionage.

We’re likely to see other 5G smartphones at or MWC. Samsung is rumored to be launching a 5G variant of its Galaxy S10 flagship in 2019, though it’s unclear whether this launch will happen at its February 20 “Unpacked” event ahead of the MWC, or later in the year.

Other manufacturers which might launch or at least unveil more details about their 5G phones during the MWC include OnePlus and Oppo, though details about those phones are non-existent.

In any case, 2019 will definitely be the year of 5G. With major manufacturers announcing 5G devices, and carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint launching or expanding their 5G networks this year, we’re finally moving into the era of super-fast mobile internet.

Which phones will get it?

Considering many flagship smartphones use Qualcomm modems, especially in the US, we may see 5G speeds from almost all of next year’s best phones.

This means it’ll likely be in device that only exist in theory: the LG G8 and HTC U13 are good guesses. And while Samsung and Google aren’t part of today’s announcement, we’ll likely to the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel 4 launch as 5G-ready phones, too.

Of course, just because the first 5G-ready devices are slated to become available in 2019, it doesn’t mean you’ll instantly get multi-gigabit speeds.

Qualcomm also announced that it’s working with major carriers  (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Vodafone to name a few) on 5G speed tests right now. But some carriers won’t be ready to launch their 5G operations until closer to 2020. In other words, we’ll all get to fast speeds slowly but surely.

We’ll be there at this year’s Mobile World Congress to check out all those 5G in person; stay tuned for our coverage.

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