U.S. carrier Sprint has now revealed that its network’s first 5G compatible phone will be built by Samsung and release as early as this summer, giving a strong indication that the device in question will be the Galaxy Note 10. Details on the device are slim for the time being but the smartphone will be compatible with both Sprint’s 5G and LTE networks in dual-connectivity mode. That will be operating on Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum, with additional support for bands 25 and 26 — 1.9GHz and 800MHz, respectively — while roaming. More details about the device will be provided at an unspecified point closer to its launch. 5G service for the upcoming handset will arrive in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. during the first half of the year. Specifications for the expected speeds of the network aren’t provided per Sprint’s announcement either, with the carrier only indicating that HD movies will be downloadable in seconds rather than minutes. A similar experience should be expected for graphics-heavy videos and high-speed games too, according to the mobile operator.
5G starts right now
5G collaboration between Samsung and Sprint have been public knowledge since early December, with the mobile provider coming forward to reveal a partnership following announcements from other US carriers looking to gain the upper hand with the emergent technology. That revelation could mean that Sprint actually has the upper hand here, thanks to its ownership of huge swaths of the 2.5GHz spectrum that’s so crucial to next-generation networking. The carrier will effectively be able to simply update its towers instead of installing new ones. This more recent announcement may shed more light on exactly what will be on offer immediately following the rollout of the required cell equipment upgrades. Samsung has been known to be working on a 5G smartphone for some time now and rumors have surfaced almost since the launch of its Galaxy S9 family, indicating that the Galaxy S10 series will include at least one 5G handset.
If Samsung’s 5G Galaxy S10, code-named Beyond X, is the phone in question, that means the first users of 5G should have a device that is more than capable of taking advantage of the service. No fewer than four — and maybe five — such devices are expected to launch beginning at MWC 2019 in late February but the variant including 5G will be a true monster if speculation is to be believed. Not least of all, that’s because it’s expected to ship with a whopping 12GB of RAM and as much as a full 1TB of internal flash storage. In the US, that will likely be powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 855 SoC, enhanced with dedicated AI processing and a brand new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem. A Snapdragon X50 modem would be utilized on the 5G side of the equation. For international variants, 5G may not be possible just yet since Samsung typically relies on its in-house Exynos chips in those versions. Then again, summer is when Samsung usually revises its Galaxy Note series and if the Galaxy S10 family will have a 5G-ready member, the next generation of the company’s stylus-equipped phablets will almost certainly follow suit.
But hold your horses
Sprint is not widely lauded as having the best mobile network, although whether or not a carrier is good, great, or bad depends largely on the region where the network is accessed. 5G will certainly improve data rates and could be revolutionary in terms of increasing speeds and reducing latency. Next-generation networks are predicted to work at speeds measured in gigabits instead of megabits. For context, there are 1,000 megabits in a single gigabit, opening a wider set of use cases up to and including wide area enterprise-grade IoT, smart cars and autonomous vehicles, home internet replacement, and much more on top of mobile operation. That will work in conjunction with 4G LTE, enabling diverse global networking and possibly making everything from smart cities to phone-based AI implementations that are almost immeasurably more intelligent and much more useful — if the technology performs as advertised.
That doesn’t mean that any 5G network is going to be amazing right out of the gate. Like 4G LTE before, 5G has several drawbacks even beyond the simple fact that rolling the networks out is going to take some time. The hardware itself currently takes up more space, putting more pressure on smartphone designers with regard to how much area is left for batteries and other components. It’s also much more battery intensive, to begin with, and could realistically cause serious overheating problems if manufacturers can’t find good solutions for real-world use. So the initial experience may not be great for end users, irrespective of how powerful the remaining hardware in a handset is and that’s likely to hold true for any carrier. Sprint’s announcement could signal a rapid expansion and quick advancements toward a much better experience. So it’s good news for mobile subscribers, nonetheless.
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