We’ve already heard straight from Samsung that the Galaxy S10 will not be its first 5G smartphone when it launches early next year. Motorola, on the other hand, will bring 5G functionality to the Moto Z3 courtesy of the 5G Moto Mod in early 2019. Is anyone else willing to step up to the 5G plate when it comes to smartphone? According to a joint press release issued today, LG will be delivering its first 5G smartphone in 2019 with the help of Sprint.
The unnamed smartphone will land during the first half of 2019, and it’s claimed that it will be the first 5G smartphone available in the United States. We don’t know if Sprint will be able to make this claim by actually beating the 5G Moto Mod to market, or if it is simply from the distinction that the 5G LG smartphone will be self-contained without the need for a pricey, optional accessory.
According to Sprint, its first 5G wireless markets will include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. (with more to be announced in the coming months). Sprint claims that its first 5G MIMO towers will have 10 times the capacity of its current LTE towers and will deliver blistering speeds for customers.
When we talked with engineers from both Motorola and Qualcomm earlier this month, they told us that first-generation Snapdragon X50 5G modems will be capable of delivering download speeds approaching 5Gbps, while uploads will be in the range of 500Mbps. In either scenario, these are far superior speeds than what’s possible with current LTE hardware and infrastructure. While this brings a big smile to our faces, it makes us a little scared to see how much metered or unlimited 5G data plans will cost in 2019 for early adopters.
“Sprint is moving fast on the road to 5G and we are thrilled to announce the first 5G smartphone with the innovative team at LG,” said Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO. “LG has done tremendous work developing technical designs that enable us to be among the first movers in mobile 5G.”
Fortunately for Sprint, going all-in with 5G doesn’t have the same undertones as its failed experimentation with WiMAX during the early days of 4G connectivity.