Hey AT&T, stop lying to your customers about 5G

AT&T is at it again. A generation ago, AT&T began marketing 3G technologies as 4G in order to make up for its initial lack of 4G coverage. Fast forward to 2019 and AT&T is doing the same thing. The company is marketing LTE 4G as “5G E” on select Android devices in order to fool customers into thinking they’ve received some sort of upgrade. They haven’t.

This is pathetic, AT&T, and you should be ashamed. And yet somehow, you’re not.

AT&T’s 5G Evolution is simply rebranded LTE-Advanced. It relies on 256QAM, 4×4 MIMO, and three-way carrier aggregation to improve throughput and speeds on compatible devices. AT&T has increased the footprint of this LTE-A technology rapidly over the last year and it is now in more than 400 markets. That’s laudable, but 5G it ain’t.

AT&T coined the 5G Evolution marketing term in 2017. From Day One, the press has rightfully called out AT&T for its bogus and confusing nomenclature. This month AT&T took things to a new low: The company pushed a minor software update to nearly 20 different Android models. Those devices now show “5G E” in the status bar at the top of the screen instead of “4G LTE.”

Consumers who are paying attention know there is no technology improvement here, there’s no actual upgrade, they aren’t connecting to a real mobile 5G network. Not every consumer is as informed, and surely some believe their phones are magically faster. In other words, the change, which is a lie, may be confusing to some people.

AT&T doesn’t care.

Last week during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, AT&T executives doubled-down on the lie.

Igal Elbaz, AT&T senior vice president for wireless technology, told Tom’s Guide, “What we’re trying to do is two things. One is to let the customer know that they are in an enhanced experience market or area. So we’re letting them know this on the device.”

When pushed about the misleading marketing, Elbaz replied, “Our customers will love it.” (Psst, Elbaz, as an AT&T customer I can tell you I’m not lovin’ it. In fact, quite the opposite.)

John Donovan, AT&T Communications CEO, also defended the lie saying, “We felt we had to give [customers] an indicator of when they getting twice traditional 4G speeds.” While LTE-A does provide faster speeds than LTE, it’s still 4G. Calling it anything else is just plain wrong.

AT&T defended the lie.

Eric Zeman

Why is AT&T lying like this? Perhaps the answer is perception. All the major networks are scurrying to launch mobile 5G as rapidly as possible. Each wants to scream “First!” like a 12 year old YouTube commenter.

In October, Verizon launched a non-standard, fixed 5G network in a handful of markets. This is specifically an in-home broadband replacement service. In December, AT&T launched standards-based 5G in a handful of markets. A single device, a $499 mobile hotspot, can access that mobile 5G service. Sprint and T-Mobile are still working on their 5G plans and expect to get things up and running by mid-year.

AT&T’s competitors lashed the company for its approach. Verizon took out a full-page ad bashing AT&T, while Sprint, and T-Mobile also derided the company.

What bugs me most about this is AT&T’s complete and utter disregard for the truth. The company is intentionally misleading its own customers. It makes me sick.

Mobile innovation: Things will get worse before they get better

royole flexpai foldable smartphone display

After a couple of flat years, the mobile industry is abuzz, flush with innovation. 5G will arrive in 2019 to transform the way we consume data, while flexible, foldable smartphones will reshape the way we interact with technology — or so various manufacturers and industry pundits would have us believe.

Our industry needs some optimism to relieve its current funk, but everyone seems to be forgetting the number one rule of cutting-edge technology: It takes years, not months, for bleeding-edge innovations to meaningfully change the typical consumer’s life.

Read: The most important news from CES 2019

The numbers don’t add up

Case in point, the first 5G networks and smartphones should be with us by mid-2019, but they won’t be so widespread that everyone can buy into them. Only a few global carriers offer 5G and in just a few cities, making coverage spotty at best. Furthermore, most won’t rush out to spend ludicrous money just to be first, even if they can.

Opinion post by
Robert Triggs

Research from Deloitte Insights predicts just 1 million 5G smartphones will be sold in 2019, out of an estimated 1.5 billion phones sold throughout the year — that’s not even 0.1 percent. It’s under 3 percent of the total number of smartphones currently in use in the United States. This will improve in 2020, with an estimated 15 to 20 million 5G global sales.

However, even by 2025, just 14 percent of worldwide connections are likely to be based on 5G compared to 53 percent on 4G, according to data from GSMA.

The bottom line is this year’s 5G efforts will be reasonably muted in terms of real impact, just like the first few years of 4G were. Manufacturers are keen to be first, with the glaring exception of Apple, but this fanfare needs a reality check.

Trying to provide more tangible innovations to consumers, Royole, Samsung, Huawei, and others are planning to launch smartphones with flexible displays sometime in 2019 too. Again though, industry sales expectations peg this with niche appeal rather than a real revolution.

Editor’s Pick

Flexible AMOLED display shipments are only expected to top 50 million by 2025. That’s clearly a long way down the line and that figure would only account for a little over 3 percent of today’s entire global market. In 2019, the number is expected to sit somewhere around 1.4 million. It’s not exactly predicted to be the next must-have technology then, though perhaps supply will ramp up if the first products prove to be a hit.

Ultimately the big hitters this year won’t be the first 5G or bendable phones. Instead, the regular Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10, Huawei P30 and Mate 30, Google Pixel 4, and a selection of other fan favorites will no doubt continue to sell in the most meaningful numbers.

5G signal on Galaxy Note 8

What does this all mean for 2019?

Most 2019 smartphones, for better or worse, will probably end up resembling 2018 handsets (albeit probably with a sprinkling of novel announcements to liven things up). That’s not a bad thing — lots of 2018 smartphones were really impressive. You might even say a number of companies finally nailed the smartphone formula last year.

That said, we’re probably going to see a number of more questionable “innovations” this year too. More cameras are almost certain, as are a myriad of phones hiding cameras in pinhole display cutouts. We may also see more in-display fingerprint scanners, weird and wonderful notch designs, novel ways to make bezels even smaller, and even stranger uses for “AI.” Sadly none of that is particularly new.

Read: What about 9G? T-Mobile ridicules AT&T for using fake 5G logo on 4G phones

Worse for the industry, 5G and flexible displays are unlikely to spur growth. From Apple to ZTE, phone makers — and their suppliers — are bracing for another tough year marked by market saturation, trade conflicts, and a possible widespread economic downturn.

If you’re looking for exciting and interesting products, 2019 will certainly have a few. You might even buy one of them if you’re prepared to stump up the early adopter fee. However, most consumers won’t be joining the 5G or flexible bandwagons any time soon. It’s going to take a couple more years before the mobile market looks any different to how it does today.

Here’s Verizon’s full-page newspaper ad that throws shade at AT&T

Verizon logo

AT&T ruffled a few feathers when it weirdly decided to brand portions of its existing 4G LTE network as “5G Evolution.” In response to AT&T’s antics, Verizon took out full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today.

The letter suggests that Verizon won’t conduct the same misleading marketing that AT&T is guilty of. That said, Verizon is far from innocent. In October 2018, Big Red boasted about beating everyone to the punch with its commercial 5G service. The problem is that the service used a Verizon-created 5G standard instead of the global 5G standard.

Oh, and the service isn’t mobile — it’s a home internet service only available in select markets.

You can read Verizon’s full-page newspaper ad below and reach your own conclusion.

Everything is about to change. Breakthroughs in connectivity, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) will all impact our lives in ways we can’t imagine. Underpinning these technological advancements is 5G.

The potential for 5G is awesome, but the potential to over-hype and under-deliver on the 5G promise is a temptation that the wireless industry must resist. If network providers, equipment manufacturers, handset makers, app developers, and others in the wireless ecosystem engage in behavior designed to purposefully confuse consumers, public officials and the investment community about what 5G really is, we risk alienating the very people we want most to join in developing and harnessing this exciting new technology.

That’s why we’re calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities. Verizon is making this commitment today: We won’t take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5. We will not call our 4G network a 5G network if customers don’t experience a performance or capability upgrade that only 5G can deliver.

Doing so would break an enduring and simple promise we’ve made to our customers: That each new wireless generation makes new things possible.

It is this belief that led us to bring together key device, chip and network equipment manufacturing partners to create the 5G Technology Forum with the goal of developing global 5G standards more quickly. The result was a commercial 5G offering a full two years ahead of original estimates. It’s why we’re committed to build the first 5G Ultra Wideband network. It is the reason we opened 5G Labs to support entrepreneurs and innovators as they build the 5G applications that will change how we live, work and play. And it’s the motivating factor behind our sponsorship of 5G development challenges focused on education, public safety, robotics and other critical areas where 5G can impact lives today and tomorrow.

We lead by example. And we challenge our competitors, vendors and partners to join us. People need a clear, consistent and simple understanding of 5G so they are able to compare services, plans and products, without having to maneuver through marketing double-speak or technical specifications.

Our industry knows 5G will change the world. Let’s uphold that promise, while maintaining our integrity. The success of the 5G technological revolution must be measured in truth and fact, not marketing hype.

NEXT: What about 9G? T-Mobile ridicules AT&T for using fake 5G logo on 4G phones

10 tech predictions from the staff of Android Authority

2018 is almost at an end and it’s undoubtedly been an excellent year for smartphones. We’re already quickly gearing up for 2019’s early high profile releases, and — leaks aside — we’re pretty confident that our veteran industry status gives us a pretty good idea about what to expect.

Here are ten of the Android Authority staff’s best and most out-there predictions for what 2019 will hold.

Gaming phones become more competitive

If you hadn’t noticed, mobile gaming is a big thing, especially in China. So big in fact that we now have a number of dedicated gaming smartphones on the market, including the Razer Phone 2, Asus ROG Phone, and Xiaomi Black Shark.

See also

Cutting-edge processor specs alone aren’t going to be enough next year though, predicts our Luka Mlinar. Gaming phones need to offer more. That’s certainly true when you consider that every other flagship smartphone will be using the same chipset next year: the Snapdragon 855.

We could see better cooling systems, but gimmicks like “speed boost” gaming modes aren’t fooling anyone. Instead, gaming phones may morph to offer superior controllers, even higher screen refresh rates, better audio and feedback features, and perhaps even some more useful gaming software and ecosystem tools. Personally, I’m still waiting on a Sony Xperia Play reboot to gift us an awesome PlayStation phone.

Facebook will (unfortunately) be fine

2018 hasn’t been a good year for Facebook, nor for the privacy of its users. Scandal after scandal has hit the social network throughout 2018, yet it’s still standing firm. Facebook will keep on doing creepy things in 2019, so foresees Sam Moore.

I probably don’t need to remind you about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the U.S. Senate hearing50 million accounts hacked, the further data theft of 29 million users, exposing private photos, and recent revelations about granting message access to third-party companies. But I will. Honestly, it’s miraculous that the company hasn’t succumbed to any of this. I can only fathom that Facebook is so deeply integrated into people’s lives that they can’t bring themselves to rid of it.

If you’re looking for a healthy New Year’s resolution, at least give less of your precious personal data to Mark.

Also read: The biggest tech and mobile blunders of 2018

MOAR CAMERAS

The back of the Nokia 9. 91Mobiles/OnLeaks

If 2018 was the year of the triple camera, 2019 will be the year of the quad or even quintuple camera monster. Or so Android Authority’s Joe Hindy and Williams Pelegrin predict.

Related

The introduction of telephoto, wide-angle, monochrome, and depth sensor camera combinations pushed smartphone photography capabilities up another notch this year. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see manufacturers throw everything they can at both front and rear camera setups in 2019. Samsung already has a quad-camera phone with its Galaxy A9 2018 edition, and flagship models could go even further.

Heck, if that crazy Nokia 9 leak turns out to be true we could be looking at our first penta-camera sometime next year. That would make triple cameras look positively pedestrian. But will it be better than a Pixel?

Farewell bezels, hello holes

Honor View20 selfie camera

Display holes (is that seriously what we’re calling them?) are a safe bet for 2019, so it’s not surprising that a few of our staff suggested this one. We all know Samsung’s Infinity-O display is in production and have already had our first look at the Honor View 20 and its display hole. Expect a number of 2019 smartphones to come sporting this new look.

These advances in display slicing technology open the door for some cool new technological tricks to replace the notch. In-display cameras are a given, but manufacturers could also hide many more sensors, such as 3D facial scanning, into these holes.

We’ve also seen our first in-display fingerprint scanners hit the market this year and Samsung’s UPS display technology suggests it has found a way to embed cameras inside panels too. Perhaps manufacturers will hide other bits of front-facing technology seamlessly into the display in 2019. All in all, these trends probably mean even thinner bezels for 2019’s smartphones too.

Cryptocurrency finally gets a useful dApp, or it dies

I think this was a serious suggestion from Tristan Rayner, but who can be sure when it comes to the apparently infinite, reality-defying possibilities of blockchain?

Despite this year’s major setbacks for the valuations of popular cryptocurrencies, the fundamentals of secure open ledgers and decentralized applications remain appealing. 2019 could finally be the year that a breakthrough application (dApp) that relies on blockchain appears. Perhaps complete with its own currency to keep the data crunching ticking over.

Luka isn’t so optimistic about cryptocurrencies, and who can blame him after the Bitcoin bubble appeared to burst early last year. $17.1k to just $3.7k over the last twelve months certainly looks like curtains for the coin’s mainstream popularity. 2019 could well be the year that decides the fate of cryptocurrencies. Either a breakthrough dApp appears to renew faith, or the idea continues its gradual decline into irrelevance.

Just please, no more attempts at a blockchain phone. OK, everyone?

Battery life won’t get any better (sadly)

Adam Molina points out that we’re probably not looking at longer battery life next year. A disappointing prediction given that this is consistently one of the most requested updates to phones each year.

But with battery sizes gradually increasing and smartphone processors moving on to more efficiency 7nm processes, you’re probably wondering why we’re not predicting a revolution in battery life.

First is that manufacturers keep finding new ways to consume these power savings. Be that a higher performing processor and higher quality gaming, brighter and higher resolution displays, new power consuming content like HDR video, more power hungry multi-camera setups, and 5G. Secondly, because even a generous 20-percent boost to battery life might only add an hour of screen on time to many phones. That’s obviously a good thing, but even for the best phones that last a whole day that extra hour or even two isn’t going to make up the difference to the next milestone: multi-day battery life.

Sorry about this one.

We’ll still be waiting for Android Pie updates

Hadlee Simons is similarly pessimistic in his expectations for 2019 — many of us are going to be sat hammering that refresh button for our Android Pie update.

Hadlee has a pretty good point. Despite the introduction of Project Treble for Oreo-based devices, we haven’t seen the biggest manufacturers offer vastly faster update times to Android Pie. Huawei might just squeeze in its updates before the end of the year, but Samsung, LG, HTC, and others haven’t pushed out their updates to many customers yet, with the exception of a few preview programs.

Instead, the lesser known OEMs with a smaller number of handsets to support have been doing a better job. Essential and OnePlus being notably quick adopters, along with other stock-like OS manufacturers. Unfortunately even Treble doesn’t appear to have encouraged big manufacturers to put the necessary resources into pushing out faster software updates for their phones. Mid-range handsets also appear to still be forgotten about too.

We’ll find at least two more ways to complain about the notch

Hopefully, 2018 won’t be remembered as the year of the notch. Although not universally loathed, it’s definitely one of the more contentious adoptions in the smartphone space this year — so much so that the notch has spawned more than its share of memes and jokes over the last year and a bit.

We’ve heard it all this year, from it’s downright ugly (I’m looking at you Pixel 3 XL) to that it makes phones look like shameless iPhone clones. There have also been plenty of complaints about some of the software the tweaks made to Android Pie, such as the clock position, to accommodate the notch. You folks certainly know what you don’t like.

Our Executive Editor Kris Carlon reckons that we’ll find at least two new things to hate about the notch next year. Better get cracking.

Phones with 16GB of RAM

Our own Feliks Mangus predicts that we could see smartphones packing in a whopping 16GB of RAM hit shelves in 2019. This would undoubtedly be overkill, but is it possible?

The swanky OnePlus 6T McLaren edition comes in a crazy 10GB RAM variant. The newly announced Lenovo Z5 Pro GT already promises 12GB of RAM paired up with a brand new Snapdragon 855 SoC and we’re still not even into 2019’s major smartphone announcements.

While 8GB probably seems like a sensible limit for most flagship smartphones, we’ll surely see some manufacturers push the RAM count even higher. If only to grab headlines rather than offer up revolutionary performance.

5G signal on Galaxy Note 8

5G doesn’t live up to the hype

Both Tristan and I are calling this one now: 5G isn’t going to be the game changer for smartphones that many companies are eagerly hyping up.

Editor’s Pick

If you recall the rollout of 4G LTE, you already know what to expect. Only certain cities will see the technology first and even then coverage will be spotty at best. Couple this with the unknowns about smartphone form factors and, more importantly, battery life and those first 5G smartphones might not be so appealing either.

That said, 5G works. It’s going to have some interesting use cases for home and business internet access, and eventually mass IoT and all that other jargon too. But for smartphones, 2019’s 5G wireless rollout will probably be a muted experience for most of us. Unless you’re that crazy person streaming 4K HDR video to your tiny 6-inch display outside a mmWave base station in downtown New York.

What about your predictions?

That’s enough from us, what are your biggest predictions for smartphones, and tech in general, in 2019?

Next: 2019 will be a great year for smartwatches and fitness trackers — here’s why

You can’t be sewerious: Vodafone will use manhole covers to boost 4G, 5G

4G manhole covers by Vodafone. Vodafone

  • Vodafone is placing mobile equipment in manhole covers, enabling 4G coverage in the process.
  • The manhole covers can be upgraded to 5G in the future as well.
  • This could be a boon for the transition to 5G, which is expected to be a complex challenge.

Developing cellular networks is no easy task. Great distances, varying terrain, and numerous obstacles make it a challenging process. The transition to 5G is expected to be even tougher than LTE was, but U.K. carrier Vodafone thinks it has a way to help it go more smoothly (h/t: Ubergizmo).

The cellular network is placing mobile antennae and equipment in manhole covers, enabling expanded coverage in the process. According to a Vodafone press release, the equipment can be integrated into the manhole cover without street works or construction. This results in a smaller footprint than a traditional cellular tower, along with a 200m radius for call and data coverage.

“By connecting the manhole covers to this network, we can provide great 4G coverage now, and easily upgrade them to 5G in the future,” the carrier explained.

Vodafone has only installed these covers at its Newbury office and technology center thus far, but said it was looking to roll out 4G-enabled manhole covers across the U.K. These would be available both via its own covers and those of utility providers. A company representative told Android Authority that it’s already identified several possible test sites in central London, but it had no launch window to share for them.

Editor’s Pick

Vodafone’s solution could also prove to be a big boost for its 5G ambitions, as it’s tipped to be a more complex endeavor than previous upgrades. More specifically, mmWave 5G is more prone to disruptions than LTE, necessitating the use of more antennae in future smartphones, as well as beam-forming technology. Meanwhile, sub-6Ghz 5G will offer slower speeds but should be more resilient than its mmWave counterpart.

Either way, new solutions like these manhole covers could help make the transition to 5G easier for networks. Manhole covers aren’t the only hosts for cellular equipment either, as Vodafone revealed that it was placing 4G antennae on telephone boxes as well. A company representative confirmed to Android Authority that these pay phone boxes could also be upgraded to 5G “in theory,” potentially giving subscribers more coverage.

NEXT: 2019 will be a great year for smartwatches and fitness trackers

5G phones: All you need to know about every 5G phone confirmed so far

best 5G phones

5G is coming.”

We’ve heard it repeated by telecom giants and smartphone OEMs for years now. The fifth-generation network promises lightning fast download speeds, an IoT revolution, and rapid streaming with essentially zero latency, but what good is 5G without 5G phones?

Editor’s Pick

We’ve put together a list of all the major Android manufacturers that have either teased or confirmed phones with 5G support. We’ll compile all the rumors, speculation, and confirmed news here over the coming months and updating the post as more information emerges.

Who will win the race to the first true 5G phone? Let’s find out.

Google Pixel 5G phone

Google

In typical Google fashion, the search giant is letting others make the big promises, and testing moonshot ideas in the background like delivering high-speed mobile internet via drones.

In theory, the Google Pixel 4 could support 5G, although I wouldn’t hold your breath. Google has been more than happy to skip over the latest tech in the past. The Pixel 3 series missed out on an in-display fingerprint sensor and still packs a single camera lens and just 4GB of RAM.

Google has been more than happy to skip over the latest tech in the past.

If you’re holding out hope for a 5G phone from the Mountain View company, you might want to keep your eyes on Verizon. Google has traditionally partnered with Verizon as the exclusive carrier for the Pixel range, and Verizon is fully aboard the 5G hype train.

Google has already partnered with Verizon to offer “free” Chromecasts for its 5G Home service, which is currently only live in four U.S. cities.

Could a 5G-supported Pixel 4 also launch on Verizon in Q4 2019? The jury’s still out.

Nokia 5G phone

HMD Global (Nokia)

Nokia licensee HMD Global is one of the many OEMs listed by Qualcomm as working on devices set for launch “starting in 2019” which all pack the 5G-ready Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

That doesn’t mean we’ll definitely see a 5G Nokia Android phone next year, just that the Finnish firm has plans for 5G at some point in the future — potentially far in the future.

Editor’s Pick

Back in May, HMD Global announced the opening of its “Future Lab” in Shenzhen, China, where it will funnel its investments into next-gen technologies such as 5G, as well as materials research, and AI and imaging.

According to a press release from the Future Lab launch: “HMD believes that as 5G technology matures, the mobile device and services experience will change considerably.”

Basically, a Nokia 5G phone is coming, but HMD’s (quite sensible) strategy is to wait and try to deliver a quality device rather than rushing to be first.

Huawei 5G phone

Huawei

There’s no OEM on this list with a larger stake in the success of 5G than Huawei. From the core network hardware to 5G chips, all the way up to the actual phones supporting the network, the Chinese giant is all-in on 5G’s entire infrastructure. As of April this year, Huawei has reportedly spent $600 million on 5G research since 2009.

Despite high-profile setbacks in the U.S., Huawei is pushing forward with 5G solutions in China, Europe, and beyond. However, all that won’t mean much if it doesn’t also have a phone to lead the charge.

Editor’s Pick

Huawei is incredibly keen on snatching the “first 5G phone” title. Initially, Huawei promised its 5G phone — which many suspected would be the Mate 30 series — would be ready for the second half of 2019, but recently that estimate moved to Q1 2019.

In fact, there’s now speculation Huawei could unveil a foldable 5G phone at Mobile World Congress 2019. Note that I didn’t say prototype either, this is apparently the real deal.

Whether we see this mystery foldable 5G phone at MWC or not, it seems foolish to bet against Huawei being the first OEM with a 5G phone ready for prime time.

Honor 5G phone

Honor

According to Honor CEO George Zhao, Hauwei’s sub-brand could actually be first when Honor launches the world’s first 5G phone next year.

That’s right, Huawei’s claim to the 5G throne could well be snatched by… Huawei. If Honor is first, Huawei will still count it as a win, of course — don’t forget Huawei’s dominance is due in no small part the Honor brand’s success.

Aside from Zhao’s claims, we know absolutely nothing about the phone itself. Could we perhaps see a Magic 2 variant with 5G support?

HTC 5G phone

HTC

The fallen Android king refuses to give up on its mobile business despite several years of catastrophic failure. Like so many other OEMs scrambling for market share, HTC is hoping 5G will shake up the industry. It’s one of the many Qualcomm partners testing the X50 5G modem.

There’s also a good chance HTC’s 5G phone will feature Qualcomm’s next flagship SoC — possibly called either the Snapdragon 855 or 8150 — so things should become clearer when the chipset is officially revealed either late this year or Q1 2019.

HTC’s vested interest in the success of 5G isn’t just based on its mobile business.

HTC also already has a partnership in place with China Mobile for 5G development in the region.

HTC’s vested interest in the success of 5G isn’t just based on its mobile business, however. 5G is also expected to usher in the next evolution of virtual reality and augmented reality technology, with 5G mobile broadband enabling VR and AR experiences at a reduced cost with next to no latency.

The Vive is still at the forefront of VR innovation, and the Taiwanese company no doubt hopes the substantial benefits of 5G will lead to mass adoption of VR and, by proxy, its Vive product family.

Maybe it’s finally time for that long-rumored Vive smartphone, only this time with 5G support?

Lenovo 5G phone

Lenovo

Motorola’s parent company is one more OEM promising to absolutely, 100 percent become the first company to deliver a commercial 5G phone. That’s according to Lenovo‘s vice president Chang Cheng, seemingly unaware, as with every other executive quoted in this article, that only one manufacturer won’t have been talking nonsense this entire time.

Don’t bet on Lenovo being first.

Like so many phones on this list, Lenovo’s first 5G offering will reportedly feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 SoC and X50 modem, but that’s all we know so far.

As for Cheng’s bluster, we’ve all been burned by Lenovo’s promises before, most recently with the bezel-less Z5 concept sketch posted by none other than Cheng himself.

TL;DR: Don’t bet on Lenovo being first.

LG 5G phone

LG

LG has promised to launch “the first 5G smartphone in America in early 2019” in partnership with U.S. carrier Sprint. The unnamed phone will be the first 5G phone to debut on Sprint’s own 5G network, which is expected to go live in nine U.S. cities in Q1 2019.

If LG is adapting an existing member of its smartphone family, an LG G7 ThinQ successor will be the most likely candidate.

Related: We could see the LG foldable phone at CES in January

A Sprint executive recently let slip LG’s 5G phone will be “distinct” from the rest of the pack and “immediately recognizable” as a 5G device.

What that means exactly is anyone’s guess and considering the many, many different weird and wonderful form factors we’ve seen grace the G series in the past, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see 5G pushed as the G8’s marquee feature.

Motorola 5G phone Moto Z3

Motorola

If you ask Motorola, the race to the first 5G phone is already over thanks to the Verizon-exclusive Moto Z3 and the upcoming 5G Moto Mod.

The snap-on modular attachment is hardly a looker, but the award-winning Snapdragon X50 5G modem-powered mod has already been successfully tested on a commercial 3GPP 5G network.

There’s still no solid release date for the 5G mod, though there’s a good chance it’ll be front and center when Verizon’s 5G mobile network goes live early next year. There’s also no word on price.

Editor’s Pick

Whether or not the Moto Z3 qualifies as the first 5G phone is up for debate too. It doesn’t natively support 5G, which may be a semantic dispute for some, but I’m guessing the other OEMs listed here won’t be so willing to accept Motorola’s claim to the 5G throne.

Aside from the Moto Z3, there’s also the next phone in the series, the Moto Z4. The unannounced phone, currently codenamed “Odin,” is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 855 SoC and once again opt for 5G Moto Mod rather than native 5G support.

OnePlus 5G phone

OnePlus

OnePlus hasn’t been shy about its plans to launch a 5G phone in 2019.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei confirmed the company will release a 5G phone next year during the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in October.

The location of the announcement, a mention on Qualcomm’s X50 modem press release, and the fact that every OnePlus phone has featured Qualcomm silicon makes it fairly obvious OnePlus will probably look to the increasingly familiar Snapdragon 855/X50 combo to power its 5G phone.

We also know OnePlus’ 5G phone will be announced early in 2019, but it won’t be the OnePlus 7. That leaves us with two alternatives: either OnePlus is waiting for the inevitable OnePlus 7T in late 2019, or it is readying an entirely new phone line for the first time since the OnePlus X.

Related: Android is crying out for another OnePlus X

Oppo 5G phone

Oppo

OnePlus’ BBK stablemate is also testing the X50 modem and aiming for the “first 5G phone” mantle.

Oppo recently claimed to be the first manufacturer to successfully connect to a 5G network using a smartphone — in this case using a heavily modified Oppo R15. It even posted a nice photo to prove it.

Editor’s Pick

Oppo also established the Oppo Research Institute earlier this year, opening several R&D branches in Silicon Valley, Yokohama, Japan, and several Chinese cities to push forward work on new technologies including, you guessed it, 5G.

Oppo is one of the many Chinese OEMs that could benefit greatly from 5G’s global rollout, so expect to see a 5G phone from the Dongguan firm sooner rather than later.

Samsung 5G phone Samsung

Samsung

If you need proof the smartphone sector is in a sales slump, look no further than the industry leader. Samsung is still far and away the biggest Android OEM, but even the South Korean giant saw sales drop in 2018.

Samsung, like so many other OEMs, is hoping 2019 will change all that, as new technology finally comes to the market. Chief among those technologies is 5G.

Samsung has already revealed its own 5G-ready Exynos modem and is apparently readying a special Samsung Galaxy S10 variant with 5G support for release in Spring 2019.

We’ve heard plenty of rumors out of South Korea that Samsung is going all out for its tenth anniversary Galaxy flagship. The reports suggest Samsung is preparing to unleash four Galaxy S10 models, one of which will support 5G connectivity.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10: All the rumors in one place

Thanks to more recent reports, it now seems clear the 5G model — internally dubbed “Beyond X” — will be an absolute beast of a phone, packing a 6.44-inch display and six cameras (two selfie cameras, four on the rear). That’s in addition to 5G support and most likely the long-rumored in-display fingerprint sensor the company has been testing for years.

There’s also speculation that the 5G Galaxy S10 model will debut at an event in mid-February, which would coincide nicely with Samsung’s usual Mobile World Congress keynote spot.

As for Samsung’s long-awaited foldable phone, which also looks set for a 2019 launch, there’s a very strong chance it won’t support 5G.

Sony 5G phone

Sony

Aside from a social media snafu where an official Sony Twitter account described the Xperia definitely-not-5G-compatible Xperia XZ3 as a 5G phone, the Japanese giant has been relatively quiet on the 5G front.

Much like LG and HTC, Sony’s mobile division has come under scrutiny for under-delivering in recent years and it likewise sees 5G as a second chance of sorts.

Sony has a massive catalogue of media content across gaming, video, and music, all of which will greatly benefit from 5G.

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida talked up how 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth will be a huge boost to Sony specifically. The company already has a massive catalogue of media content across gaming, video, and music, all of which will undoubtedly benefit from 5G’s lightning fast streaming speeds.

If ever the time was right for Sony to leverage its other (far more profitable) businesses to deliver a phone for media hungry consumers, it’s now. I had a few ideas about a PlayStation Phone if you need any tips, Sony.

As for Sony’s 5G phone itself, there’s no concrete news yet. Sony is on Qualcomm’s X50 5G list though.

Vivo 5G phone

Vivo

The last of the three BBK companies is already testing 5G with a modified version of the Vivo Nex kitted out with Qualcomm’s X50 modem.

Vivo Senior Vice President Alex Feng echoed pretty much every other smartphone company executive on 5G’s importance.

“The 5G era will spark abundant and new possibilities for the smartphone industry,” he said.

Shockingly, Vivo hasn’t promised to deliver the first commercial 5G phone either, merely noting it hopes to bring the first batch to market sometime in 2019.

Xiaomi 5G phone Mi Mix 3

Xiaomi

Xiaomi recently revealed the almost completely bezel-less, slider-packing Mi Mix 3, confirming a 5G variant of the handset is on the way in Q1 2019. That makes Xiaomi the only OEM on this list to have actually confirmed the exact model of its first 5G phone. Congrats, Xiaomi!

Xiaomi’s Donovan Sung teased 5G connectivity on the then-unannounced Mi Mix 3 in a tweet back in September. We also know Xiaomi is one of the many OEMs working with Qualcomm.

ZTE 5G phone

ZTE

After a short-lived U.S. supply ban threatened the company’s very existence in 2018, ZTE is looking to bounce back in 2019 with a 5G phone of its own.

Initially planned for an early 2019 release, the Chinese firm has since pushed that estimate back to “late 2019.” ZTE hasn’t given a reason for the delay, but it’s likely still working on a design that tempers the higher power consumption caused by 5G modem technology.

What about the rest?

Several notable Android OEMs have yet to address the looming dawn of 5G at all.

Online mobile gaming and game streaming look set to benefit massively from 5G (just ask Nvidia), but Razer has yet to make any 5G commitments for any future Razer Phone.

Blackberry licensee TCL also hasn’t addressed the 5G question, nor have Acer or Asus — the latter is partnered with Qualcomm for 5G modem testing, though.

There’s also an outside chance Essential could see 5G as a way back into the smartphone market, but with the Essential Phone 2 seemingly cancelled it’s something of a long shot.


Which 5G phone are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments!

OnePlus says it will launch a 5G phone next year, hopes to be part of first wave

OnePlus-6-Camera-Review-1

  • Carl Pei has confirmed OnePlus will release a 5G phone next year.
  • The executive says OnePlus will be among the first companies to release a 5G device.
  • This suggests the phone will be released early in the year.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed the company will release a 5G phone next year. Speaking at the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Pei said he expects OnePlus to be either the first or one of the first companies to release a 5G device, reports Engadget.

This comes soon after Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon reportedly said he expects at least two major flagships to arrive with Qualcomm’s 5G radio next year: one in the first half of the year, and one in the holiday season.

At the moment, it is thought OEMs will begin to release 5G devices in early 2019.

In recent years, OnePlus has launched phones in May or June and October or November. Should the company stick to its twice-yearly release schedule and still be one of the first to release a 5G phone, it is likely that the May release would have to be the one that includes a version with 5G support.

Alternatively, the company could be working on a separate 5G model. This would allow it to release a 5G device even earlier in the year while sticking to May and November for its regular releases.

Editor’s Pick

The list of manufacturers thought to be working on 5G devices appears to be growing by the day. LG has confirmed it will release a device with Sprint, while Huawei has said it is working on a foldable phone with 5G support.

ZTE and Samsung are also thought to be working on devices that will be released next year, while Xiaomi has said it will launch the Mi Mix 3 with 5G support on October 25.

Next up: 5G: When will your smartphone get it?