With the biggest initial wave of 5G deployment likely taking place in 2019 and 2020, phone-makers and carriers alike are readying themselves for the latest generation of cellular technology. Sprint and Verizon, for example, already turned on their 5G networks in a select number of US cities. In the UK, EE became the first 5G carrier. Vodafone then said it will launch its network in July and Three said it will switch on its 5G in August.
Most people will likely experience the benefits of a robust 5G network only through a 5G-enabled phone. After all, the grand promises Qualcomm and carriers are making about 5G coverage don't mean much if you can't access the network with your own device.
To help you keep tabs on when we can expect 5G phones, here's what the major phone-makers have announced -- and not announced -- about their 5G phone plans so far.
Apple's in no rush to launch a 5G iPhone and it's likely you won't see one until 2025. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Apple usually isn't the first in on mobile trends, preferring instead to perfect an emerging technology before committing to it.
But the Galaxy S10 5G won't be the only 5G phone from Samsung. Its foldable Galaxy Fold will have a 5G variant too, however that phone's launch has been delayed due to reported screen issues that the company said it recently solved. And AT&T announced it will carry additional Samsung 5G phones by the second half of 2019 (no word yet on the specific devices, though).
What does that have to do with Google? For the past few years, Google has tapped Verizon as its exclusive carrier partner for its Pixel phones, including the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. (However, Google also sells the phone unlocked or on its Wi-Fi-first network, Google Fi. Its most recent midrange phones, the Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL, are also now available from other carriers.)
This could mean that Google's next flagship, presumably called the Pixel 4, could be a 5G phone. If it sticks with its usual phone launch schedule, the Pixel 4 would debut around October 2019 -- well into the second half of the year.
The phone features a 6.4-inch OLED display, three rear cameras that include a wide-angle and telephoto lens, the Snapdragon 855 chipset and two front-facing cameras. It can also attach to a Dual Screen accessory that increases the phone's display size, though that won't be available in the US.
Published:Caption:Lynn LaPhoto:Lynn La/CNETDisclosure:We may get a commission from retail offers.
Lenovo's first 5G device was 2018's Motorola Moto Z3. Its successor, the Moto Z4, launched this month without much fanfare. Like the Z3, the Z4 connects to 5G with a Moto Mod modular accessory, which attaches to the back of the phone using magnetic pins. The phone is $499 and the Mod costs extra, but for a limited time you can get both for $440, making the Z4 the cheapest 5G phone yet.
As for a Motorola phone that wouldn't need an accessory to connect to 5G, the company is working on making such a device, but you'll have to wait much longer. Doug Michau, Motorola Mobility's director of technical sales and operations, said that phone would come much later than early 2019. More specifically, Michau said it would launch in "definitely less than three years, but no time frame yet."
The Chinese phonemaker has two 5G phones waiting in the wings. One is the Mate X, which combines 5G speeds and a foldable display. The device has a 6.6-inch display when folded closed, and and 8-inch OLED screen when you flip it open. It also features a 4,500mAh battery and three rear cameras. The Mate X is scheduled to launch in the middle of the year and will cost a whopping 2,300 euros (about $2,600).
Its second phone is the Mate 20 X 5G. Available in the UK in June for £999 (or about $1,279 in the US and AU$1,856 in Australia), the device has a huge 7.2-inch display, a 4,200mAh battery and a triple rear-camera setup. EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 will carry the Mate 20 X 5G.
OnePlus' latest phone, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a 5G variant that will sell on the UK carrier EE's 5G network. Though the company didn't release official pricing or availability, OnePlus did say it was "coming soon," and the regular OnePlus 7 Pro starts at $669, and £649 (or AU$962 in Australia). EE's 5G deployment will also span 16 cities in 2019, starting with London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.
The OnePlus 7 Pro features a 6.67-inch, 90Hz display, a pop-up selfie camera and three rear cameras. In the US the phone is available through T-Mobile, but unlocked models work on AT&T and Verizon.
But don't expect 5G Nokia phones anytime soon; in February HMD (which makes Nokia phones) CEO Florian Seiche said those devices probably won't arrive until 2020. Nokia also stands to benefit from 5G in other ways though. In addition to Qualcomm and Ericsson, the company has patent rights to 5G technology and stands to make up to $3.50 for every 5G smartphone sold.
Taiwanese electronics company HTC also had something 5G-related to show off at MWC. Instead of a phone, though, it was a 5G hotspot. Available on Sprint for $600, the hub connects up to 20 people simultaneously. Equipped with a 5-inch display, audio speakers and Android Pie software, the device is also a media hub that users can make video calls with or use to check mail. The HTC 5G Hub hotspot ships out May 31.
ZTE's latest phone, the Axon 10 Pro 5G, will launch in June, but a 4G version of the phone is already available in Germany for 599 euros ($671, £520, AU$967). It's equipped with a Snapdragon 855 processor and has a fingerprint scanner embedded in its screen.
In February ZTE said it was aiming to have 5G phones off the ground in either late 2018 or early 2019, but followed that up with a "late 2019" prediction. Currently, ZTE is working with eight international carriers to roll out 5G testing. While the future of ZTE in the US is up in the air due to a recent (now lifted) ban on its phones because the company violated trade sanctions, the Axon 10 Pro will at least be available in the first half of this year in Europe and China.
Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi remixed its Mi Mix 3 with a new 5G model. Aptly named Mi Mix 3 5G, the phone costs 599 euros (about $679) and will launch on May 23. It's unlikely that the phone will be available in the US. The company's initial 5G network partners include many European carriers, including Orange, Sunrise, Telefonica, Three, TIM and Vodafone -- the last of which will exclusively carry the Mi Mix 3 5G first.
The phone itself features 6.39-inch AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 845 processor and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras. Calling it "almost the perfect phone," CNET editor Aloysius Low also mentioned that it's neither water resistant nor do its front-facing cameras have secure 3D face unlocking.
Though it's unlikely to come to the US, the 5G version is scheduled for release some time between April and June. In addition to EE, Oppo is working with four other carriers (Swisscom, Australia's Telstra and Optus, as well as Singtel in Singapore) to launch the phone. It's also partnering with China Mobile to sell the phone later this summer.