Major phone manufacturers have, by and large, eschewed the idea of a 5G smartphone this year. But one manufacturer is bucking the trend.
Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has announced that its upcoming flagship, the Mi Mix 3, will be the first 5G-enabled smartphone. The mysterious new phone will be announced Oct. 25.
The fact that the phone will offer 5G is not new. Last month, Xiaomi Director of Product Management Dononvan Sung tweeted a photo of the supposed Mi Mix 3 with a 5G connection. At that time, however, it was unclear whether other manufacturers, many of whom are launching new smartphones this month, would launch 5G phones.
Today, Xiaomi announced the phone's release date along with the fact that it will, in fact, be the first 5G phone.
While a 5G phone might sound exciting, the truth is that it's not going to impact many people's daily lives until next year at the earliest. No country has mobile 5G widely available. AT&T will be expanding its 5G rollout to 12 cities by the end of 2018, but that won't impact smartphones. The service will only be available through a puck-hotspot device.
Verizon has launched a fixed broadband 5G service in a few cities, but has no plans for a mobile service until next year. T-Mobile will be building out 5G to 30 cities by the end of the year, but there's no timetable for launch for consumers. The carrier says to expect nationwide coverage by 2020.
Sprint and LG will be launching the carrier's first 5G phone during the first half of 2019.
The truth is that carriers won't find it worthwhile to roll out mobile 5G networks until phones that can take advantage of them have hit the shelves. And the Mi Mix 2 is an important first step.