5G Phones: Every Known Phone and Release Date
We've heard a lot about what 5G networking and its faster speeds and lower latency will mean for your next smartphone as the new network standard comes online this year. We haven't heard as much about the phones we'll be using to connect to the next-generation network.
That's beginning to change, though, as 2019 ushers in more-concrete details on 5G network-launch plans. All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to have 5G available in at least some cities this year. And some phone makers plan to roll out devices in the first half of the year capable of taking advantage of 5G connectivity.
That means releasing a phone with a 5G modem inside, which is exactly what Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 855 mobile processing platform offers. In addition to improvements in performance and power efficiency, the Snapdragon 855's many promised benefits include an X50 5G modem. (The Snapdragon 855 also features an X24 LTE modem, for those times when 5G isn't available.)
Not every Snapdragon 855-powered phone will also boast 5G connectivity. But phone makers who do opt to include the modem with their handsets will be the first to offer devices that are ready for the 5G future. Here's an overview of what we've heard from device makers about their 5G plans and when we can expect 5G phones to appear, with next week's Mobile World Congress trade show expected to bring more even more details.
News & Updates (Updated Feb. 17)
- Images of the LG V50 ThinQ, rumored to be LG's 5G-ready phone have leaked thanks to Evan Blass.
What we know: Samsung has committed to release 5G phones in the first half of the year with two carriers — Verizon and AT&T. This will be the same phone, only it will be available through separate carriers.
Credit: Corinne Reichert/ZDNetBut that's not the only 5G phone we can expect from Samsung in 2019. AT&T has also said that it's teaming up with the phone maker to release a second 5G phone in the latter half of the year, saying that this model will be able to access the sub-6-GHz spectrum in addition to mmWave for broader 5G coverage.
What else we've heard: Samsung hasn't released too many details about the 5G phone coming to AT&T and Verizon in the spring. But given the timing and that the company is holding a press event on Feb. 20 to unveil new phones, it's looking increasingly likely that the 5G phone will be the Galaxy S10.
Or at least, it will be one version of the S10. Samsung is rumored to be working on multiple S10 models, and a high-end version featuring 5G connectivity among other features would highlight the range-topping version of the phone. It's expected that a 5G version of the Galaxy S10 would also launch after the other versions of the phone debut.
The S10 isn't the only phone in Samsung's immediate pipeline that could offer 5G connectivity. The foldable Galaxy F is also in the works and expected to debut at some point in 2019 — probably at that Feb. 20 press event now that Samsung's teasing a foldable phone, too. At least one report claims that the Galaxy F will offer 5G connectivity, although that version might initially appear only in Samsung's South Korean backyard before rolling out to other markets.
What we know: Like Samsung, LG has already lined up a carrier to offer the manufacturer's first 5G phone. In LG's case, that's Sprint, which said last August that it would team up with LG to release a 5G handset during the first half of 2019.
Credit: Evan Blass/@evleaksLG has also told us when to expect a glimpse of a 5G phone, presumably the one that Sprint will offer in the U.S. The company is holding a press conference on Feb. 24 in Barcelona, the day before Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off in that city, and LG has promised to reveal a 5G phone then.
In announcing plans to show off a 5G phone at Mobile World Congress, LG confirmed that its device would feature a Snapdragon 855 processor as well as a 4,000-mAh battery. In addition, LG is promising a heat-dissipating vapor chamber to keep the phone running cool even when you're using high-performance apps.
What else we've heard: While LG is releasing the LG G8 ThinQ at Mobile World Congress, that's unlikely to be the company's 5G offering. Instead, rumors have the next phone in LG's V series offering 5G connectivity. If true, that would mean the LG V50 ThinQ would debut just a few months after the V40 arrived — and it would share the stage with the G8 at MWC. Leaker Evan Blass has tweeted out an image of the V50 which is stamped with Sprint's branding.
What we know: Technically, Motorola already has a phone out that's capable of connecting to 5G networks. You just need a yet-to-be-released add-on to make it work.
The Moto Z3The Moto Z3, released last year as a Verizon exclusive, will be able to support a Moto Mod that adds 5G connectivity to this phone. Like other Moto Mods, this add-on snaps to the back of the phone. It will be able to connect to Verizon's 5G network, wherever that's available. Currently, Verizon offers 5G broadband service in five cities, and the provider's mobile 5G offering is launching later in 2019.
We're still waiting on pricing and availability information for the 5G Moto Mod; we've been told only that the add-on will arrive early this year. But we did see a demo of the device late last year, and while that preview didn't deliver the promised 5G speeds — it was being demoed on a makeshift 5G network, after all — we were still able to download a 1GB file to the Moto Z3 in 17 seconds.
What else we've heard: The Moto Mod gives Motorola a way to offer a 5G-capable phone around the same time that other phone makers are rolling out 5G-ready devices. But we expect that the phone maker will have more to say about its 5G plans later in the year.
What we know: When Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 855 in December, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau appeared at the launch event to announce that his company would build a 5G-capable phone using the new processor. In the U.K., operator EE has committed to offering OnePlus' 5G phone, where it could be the first 5G phone in Europe this year.
Credit: OnePlus/QualcommLike other phone makers, OnePlus expects to release its 5G phone in the first half of 2019. Lau has said to expect the device before the end of May.
What else we've heard: Notice that we're not calling this phone the OnePlus 7. The company has indicated that its 5G phone will not be part of the standard OnePlus smartphone lineup. That could be because the cost of 5G components could push the phone beyond the affordable prices OnePlus typically charges for its handsets.
Lau has said in interviews that a 5G phone could be $200 to $300 more expensive than OnePlus' typical devices, though he said he wants to keep the price under $1,000.
What we know: Huawei says it's going to unveil a 5G-ready device at Mobile World Congress in late February.
A render of Huawei's foldable phone. Credit: ET News5G connectivity will come via a new modem called the Balong 5000, which will be combined with Huawei's existing Kirin 980 chipset. (Unlike the vast majority of flagship Android phone makers, who turn to Qualcomm for mobile processing components, Huawei builds its own silicon.)
In the same briefing where it revealed the Balong modem, Huawei also said its 5G phone would have a foldable screen, thus combining two of the big smartphone trends for 2019 in one device. A tweet promoting Huawei's Feb. 24 press event at MWC all but confirms that this phone will fold.
What else we've heard: It's unclear at this point whether this foldable 5G phone — the first in the world, Huawei says — will be part of the company's P series of smartphones, which typically sees an update in the first half of the year, or part of another product line entirely. We also don't know if Huawei's 5G phone will reach the U.S., but given the U.S. government's ongoing hostility toward Huawei, such an arrival would be a surprise.
Other phone makers
A lot of the other companies that have disclosed 5G plans are in the same class as Huawei: Chinese phone makers that will come out with 5G phones in the early part of 2019 without those devices making it to the U.S.
Xiaomi is promising a 5G, Snapdragon 855-based version of its Mi Mix 3 phone this year, though it's likely to be available only in Europe and China. Last September, Honor pledged to come out with a 5G phone in 2019, but considering that the just-announced Honor View 20 is unlikely to reach the U.S., we wouldn't hold out hope that a 5G device will buck that trend.
What about Apple?
Apple never discloses its smartphone plans until it's good and ready, though that doesn't stop the iPhone rumor mill from setting expectations for future devices out of Cupertino. And right now, all signs point to Apple sitting out the 5G rollout in 2019.
Late last year, Bloomberg reported that Apple wouldn't come out with a 5G iPhone until 2020, which would match the company's approach to the 4G rollout a decade ago. Apple's strategy this time around may be influenced by an ongoing dispute with Qualcomm, which has Apple turning elsewhere for its modems. Reportedly, Intel's modems won't find their way inside smartphones until 2020, though Apple could turn to its own 5G modems for future iPhones.
Nothing is set in stone, of course, but at this point, we wouldn't bet on seeing Apple make any 5G news until next year.
Credit: Tom's Guide