“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?
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.
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.
Could a 5G-supported Pixel 4 also launch on Verizon in Q4 2019? The jury’s still out.
HMD Global (Nokia)
That doesn’t mean we’ll definitely see a 5G Nokia Android phone in 2019, just that the Finnish firm has plans for 5G at some point in the future — potentially far in the future.
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.
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.
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.
However, as it turns out, the first 5G phone announced by the company is the Huawei Mate X, which also happens to be the first phone from Huawei with a flexible display. In terms of its 5G support, the Mate X will have Huawei’s in-house Kirin 980 and Balong 5000 modem. the company claims the phone is capable of 4.6Gbps downlink speeds, which is double the industry standard for 5G and ten times what’s currently available with 4G networks. That bandwidth means you can download a 1GB movie in just three seconds at sub-6GHz speeds.
In its closed smartphone mode the Huawei Mats X has a 6.6-inch front screen and a 6.38-inch rear screen. When the phone is folded out to its full tablet size, it has an 8-inch display. It also has 8GB of RAM, 512GB of internal storage and two batteries on either side of the fold that have a combined size of 4,500mAh.
The Huawei Mate X is scheduled to launch this summer for the price of 2,299 euros or about $2,110. It’s going to be just the first 5G phone from Huawei.
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?
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 pair the X50 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor. HTC was among the manufacturers named at Qualcomm’s 5G summit.
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.
While HTC will likely launch a 5G smartphone, its first hardware device with 5G support will be the HTC 5G Hub. It uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor and its X50 5G modem. However, this will be more than just a mobile hotspot. It has its own 5-inch display for watching movies, playing games and more. In addition, it runs a full version of Android 9.0 Pie, which means it could serve as both a smart display as well as a hotspot. It can connect up to 20 devices wirelessly and there’s a big 7,660mAh battery if you want to take it on the road.
The HTC Home Hub will be available from several wireless carriers worldwide, including Sprint in the U.S., EE and Three in the U.K., Telstra in Australia, Deutsche Telekom in Germany. and Sunrise in Switzerland. Prcing for the device has not been revealed but it is expect to go on sale in the second quarter of 2019.
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 had promised to launch “the first 5G smartphone in America in early 2019” in partnership with U.S. carrier Sprint. During MWC 2019, LG officially announced that phone, the LG V50 ThinQ. Basically, its a souped-up version of the LG V40, with a faster processor in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, a bigger battery with a size of 4,000 and of course its 5G support.
- LG V50 ThinQ 5G is here: Everything you need to know
- LG V50 ThinQ 5G specs: 5G support and a 4,000mAh battery
The 6.4-inch LG V50 also has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage, and the same five camera set up (three in the back, two in the front) as the older LG V40. The LG V50 is also the first phone in the new direction for the V series, as LG has confirmed that it and future editions of the V models will all support 5G. Sprint says it will sell the phone later this spring, and Verizon has also confirmed it will sell the LG V50 later in 2019. Pricing for the phone has not been announced.
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, but Motorola did recently update the Z3 to enable support for the mod.
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 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.
CEO Pete Lau then stepped on stage at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon summit two months later and proclaimed that the first 5G phone to hit the market will be made by the Chinese brand.
OnePlus walked this back a couple of days later citing mistranslation issues, but the firm is still clearly dead set on leading the pack on 5G.
Lau also suggested that all 5G phones are likely to be $200-$300 more expensive than their 4G equivalents.
At MWC 2019, OnePlus showed off a prototype of its first 5G phone, but in a case designed to keep its real design secret from the public. We know that the phone will use a Qualcomm model, and during the trade show, OnePlus allowed attendees to play games on the phone with a connected Xbox controller. However, the games they were playing were being streamed from a cloud server, via 5G, to the phone, to showcase the low latency that 5G hardware and networks can provide.
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.
In the meantime, OnePlus is running a contest designed to inspire people to come up with app ideas that will take full advantage of 5G speeds. You can enter the contest by just submitting a video with you discussing your 5G app idea. OnePlus will pick 20 semi-finalists, and the OnePlus fan community will then vote for the five winners, each of which will get 50,000 euros (~$56,863) and other prizes, including (of course) the first OnePlus 5G phone.
The winners will also get some kind of help that will hopefully make their 5G app idea a reality. However, OnePlus also owns your 5G app idea forever if you enter. If you can live with that, you can enter the contest at this link.
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.
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.
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 but more importantly, it will launch at least two 5G phones in 2019.
The first will be the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which will be the biggest handset in the Galaxy S10 family of phones, with a massive 6.7 inch display and a huge 4,500mAh battery to power the screen and its 5G hardware. Inside, there will be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor (for the U.S. version) along with 256GB of onboard storage and 8GB of RAM. It will have four cameras in the back (12MP, 12MP, 16MP and a 3D depth sensor for AR effects), and two front cameras (10MP and another 3D depth sensor). The Galaxy S10 5G phone will go on sale in the first half of 2019. It’ll reach Verizon first, with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile to follow later. It will also be released in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. There’s also no word on a price, but expect it to be very, very expensive.
Samsung also announced it will release a 5G version of its Galaxy Fold phone. This device will have a flexible display that, when folded in, will act like a 4.6-inch smartphone with its external screen. When it is folded out, it will turn into a 7.3-inch tablet device. It will have an unnamed 64-bit 7nm processor, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage inside, along with two batteries totaling 4,380mAh. It will also have six cameras: three on the back, one on the front, and two on the inside.
The standard 4G version of the Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 for the already expensive price of $1,980. The 5G version doesn’t have a release date, and its price should be much higher. AT&T and T-Mobile have confirmed they will sell some version of the Galaxy Fold, but it’s unclear if they will offer the 5G version when it goes on sale.
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.
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, the company showed off a prototype for such a device, under glass, at MWC 2019, that looked very much like its newly revealed Xperia 1 phone. However, in a chat with TechRadar, Mitsuya Kishida, the President of Sony Mobile, stated that the company is not rushing to launch its first 5G phone to market, and it would rather wait until the full rollout of 5G networks is underway.
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 and a matching Snapdragon SoC.
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 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. The company revealed that the phone, to be called the Mi Mix 3 5G, will have the same design as the standard Mi Mix 3, but will have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem. It will also have a larger 3,800mAh battery.
Other specs include a 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage, a 6.39-inch full HD+ OLED display, a 12MP+12MP telephoto rear camera setup, a 24MP+2MP front camera setup, a rear fingerprint scanner, and a dedicated Google Assistant key. It will go on sale in May in Europe and China for 599 euros (~$679).
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.
During MWC 2019, the company announced the Axon 10 Pro 5G phone. Like many of the phones on this list it will use the Snapdragon 855 chipset and SDX50 5G modem and it will also have a triple rear camera setup and a number of AI features. ZTE has not revealed much more in the way of this phone’s hardware specs, although the renders indicate it will have an in-display fingerprint sensor and a dewdrop notch for its front camera. It will go on sale in the first half of 2019 in Europe and China. Pricing has not yet been revealed.
What about the rest?
Several notable Android OEMs have yet to address the looming dawn of 5G at all.
Blackberry licensee TCL also hasn’t addressed the 5G question, nor have Acer or Asus — the latter is partnered with Qualcomm, though.
Which 5G phone are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments!