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Surprise! Samsung Quietly Showed a 5G Phone at CES

Samsung didn't discuss 5G much at CES 2019, but the company did quietly show off a 5G prototype smartphone for folks to see at its booth, according to reports.

Credit: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet

(Image credit: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Inside the company's booth on the exhibition hall floor, a mysterious smartphone was sitting inside a glass box marked 5G Prototype Smartphone, according to ZDNet.(Business Insider spotted it too.)

People at the booth couldn't touch the device, but according to ZDNet reporter Corinne Reichert, who saw it and snapped the picture above, it comes with the same basic design as Samsung's current phones. Volume keys and the Bixby button are on the left side of the spine and a power button is on the right.

MORE: This Might Be Samsung's 5G Galaxy S10

Thin bezels flanked the screen, according to the report, and you could just make out the front-facing camera at the top of the handset. On the screen itself, Samsung was looping a video about 5G and its virtues.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because Samsung actually showcased a 5G phone back in December. That handset came with a strange corner notch that housed the front-facing camera.

According to the ZDNet report, the camera on the handset at CES was placed at its normal spot in the middle of the smartphone. It's unclear, however, whether that means Samsung has ditched the corner design or if the latest prototype was used as little more than a placeholder to promote 5G technology.

Samsung, like other major vendors, is looking at the possibility of launching 5G phones this year. Carriers are building out their 5G networks, paving the way for smartphone companies to take advantage and deliver devices that feature 5G modems. When that happens, we can expect smartphones that take advantage of 5G's many benefits, including faster speeds and performance.

According to some reports, the first 5G Samsung smartphone could be a Galaxy S10 variant the company could unveil later this year. Samsung hasn't confirmed that's the case, but Samsung has said that a 5G phone is coming. Verizon and Sprint are expected to carry the device.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.