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Samsung announces first multi-mode 5G modem, but when will it hit phones?

Samsung's new 5G modem will allow users to quickly switch between the next-gen standard and legacy networks.

Published onAugust 15, 2018

Samsung's new 5G modem.
  • Samsung has announced the Exynos Modem 5100, claiming its the first multi-mode 5G modem.
  • This means Samsung’s new modem is capable of connecting to 5G and legacy cellular networks.
  • Manufacturers can get their hands on the new 5G modem by the end of 2018.

The 5G train continues to steam ahead, as networks gear up for the next-generation standard and manufacturers work out their roadmaps. Now, Samsung has announced the Exynos Modem 5100 for smartphones, which it claims is the first multi-mode 5G modem and supports the official 5G-New Radio (NR) standard.

The new modem, which is built on a 10nm manufacturing process, supports legacy connectivity solutions. So that means you can seamlessly hook up to LTE, HSPA, 3G and even 2G in the likely event that you stray off a 5G network. As for specific 5G support, the tech colossus said the Exynos Modem 5100 supported both the sub-6Ghz and mmWave spectrums.

Read: Qualcomm’s first 5G antennas are here — Here’s what you need to know

In terms of actual download speeds, Samsung claims a maximum speed of 2Gbps using the sub-6Ghz spectrum, and 6Gbps via mmWave spectrum. Real-world speeds will likely be lower, owing to environmental conditions and as more users hop on the network.

Samsung confirmed that it also conducted a “5G-NR data call test,” connecting a prototype with the new modem to 5G base station equipment.

So why would you want 5G on your phone, then? Well, the technology delivers much faster upload and download speeds than current cellular technologies like LTE-A, LTE and HSPA+. It’s also better equipped to deal with network congestion, so you should still be able to browse Reddit at the football stadium.

When to expect Samsung’s 5G phones?

The Exynos Modem 5100 will be available to manufacturers by the end of 2018, Samsung said. So we can reasonably expect phones with 5G capabilities to land a few months into 2019.

Samsung smartphone head DJ Koh recently shed more light on the Korean firm’s 5G smartphone plans:

What is 5G, and what can we expect from it?
Red 5G logo

“While Galaxy S10 phones will be provided for mass-volume customers with 4G chipsets, we will introduce a new model for 5G,” Koh was quoted as saying by the Korea Herald. According to the outlet, Koh says we can expect this first 5G phone in March.

We’ve already seen players announce 5G modems before, such as the 5G Moto Mod (which supports the 5G-NR standard too). But Samsung’s modem is meant to be integrated into a smartphone, as opposed to an external solution like the 5G Moto Mod. Toss in the multi-mode capabilities, and it means manufacturers won’t need two modems — one for 5G, and another for legacy connectivity solutions.

NEXT: Pocophone F1 hands-on — Xiaomi’s new phone takes on OnePlus 6

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