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5G Smartphones Are Coming Sooner Than You Think

The days of face-melting 5G network speeds seem to be inching ever closer. Chip maker Qualcomm just announced its X50 5G modem, which is the first consumer-minded 5G chipset designed to give smartphones access to the fastest wireless networks ever by early 2018.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

This new chip has a bandwith support of 800 MHz, which means that your next phone could deliver download speeds as fast as 5 gigabytes per second -- perfect for high-quality video streaming or blazing-fast web browsing. If you care about nuts and bolts, the X50 can operate in the 28GHz frequency band, and features Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology that should keep your signal strong in typically poor-service areas.

MORE: 5G Networking: The Definitive Guide

According to a Qualcomm press release, 5G network support will bring "unprecedented immediacy between mobile users and cloud services." The company seems confident that both media consumption and creation will increase, and that the adoption of 5G will "make it more cost-effective and easier for multi-gigabit Internet services to reach more homes and businesses."

So why is 5G such a big deal? As NYU Wireless' Ted Rappaport told us earlier this year, the latest generation of wireless data could 1,000 times faster than 4G, potentially allowing you to "download a full-length feature movie in a matter of seconds." While Qualcomm's new chip promises 5GBps downloads, Rappaport said that 5G could eventually offer double that.

However, 5G has the potential to usher in more than just crazy fast speeds. T-Mobile recently hinted at how it might leverage the new network, with a teaser video that shows such concepts as augmented-reality navigation, real-time, two-way speech translation, and live VR content. According to a blog post from company CTO Ray Neville, 5G will allow for "one of the biggest tech transformations in history."

Time will tell if 5G ends up being a true game changer, but fortunately, we shouldn't have to wait long. Qualcomm says that consumer devices packing the 5G-enabled chip should arrive in the first half of 2018.

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored and was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.