5G smartphone race speeds ahead with new entry planned from Samsung

Samsung plans to bring a 5G smartphone to market in the first half of 2019, as part of the growing drive to provide 5G service. Both Verizon and AT&T will carry the device.

Verizon sees 5G as game changer for public safety and transportation

5G is the wave of the future for smartphones, promising to bring lower latency and blazing fast connection speeds. To take advantage of this, however, devices must be able to support 5G connectivity.

Samsung and Verizon announced on Monday that they will bring a 5G smartphone to market in the first half of 2019. AT&T announced today that it will also carry the new Samsung device in the spring of 2019.

5G mobility service will provide massive bandwidth, better connectivity, and improved network reliability. When fully implemented, it will offer capacity and download speeds much faster than a 4G LTE network.

"5G will usher in a new era of mobile connectivity, allowing people to connect to data, experiences and other people in ways never thought possible," said Brian Higgins, vice president of wireless device and product marketing at Verizon, in a press release.

SEE: 5G technology: A business leader's guide (Tech Pro Research)

Service providers are working on 5G rollouts across the US. In October, Verizon launched 5G Home, the world's first commercial 5G network in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, CA, marking a major step toward bringing the technology into the mainstream, as previously reported by TechRepublic.

The commercial 5G network is built on Verizon's Ultra Wideband 5G Network. It provides 5G broadband internet service for residents in parts of the four cities. Verizon's current 5G deployments use their proprietary 5G TF technology. The company plans to transition these deployments to use industry standard 5G NR equipment in the future, though it has not provided a timeline for this transition.

AT&T is also offering 5G service with a rollout in 12 US cities this year, and plans to add service in seven other cities in early 2019, as reported by TechRepublic. Initially, 5G will be available for AT&T customers using the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot; it's the first standards-based mobile 5G device in the world that can access a live millimeter wave 5G network, according to AT&T. The Samsung phone will be AT&T's second 5G device, after the aforementioned Netgear Nighthawk mobile hotspot puck.

In February 2018, 18 manufacturers announced plans to release 5G mobile phones in 2019, so there will be plenty of options for consumers to choose from by the end of the year. But the race is on to be the first as manufacturers are working to create the devices that can support 5G connectivity.

Samsung's upcoming phone, in partnership with Verizon, is particularly interesting because that means it will beat Apple to the finish line. Apple plans to wait until at least 2020 before releasing an iPhone capable of 5G connectivity, Bloomberg reported Monday.

SEE: How 5G will transform business (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Later this week, at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, HI, Samsung and Verizon will unveil the proof of concept smartphone, powered by the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform with the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements.

"Samsung offers end-to-end solutions that are accelerating the wide scale adoption of 5G and help us realize our vision of truly connected living," said Justin Denison, senior vice president, mobile product strategy and marketing at Samsung Electronics America, in a press release.

SEE: Quick glossary: 5G technology (Tech Pro Research)

Samsung has partnered with Verizon on its 5G Home offering since the beginning of 2018. Samsung has been an active contributor, with Verizon, to develop standards that make 5G deployment possible, and was the first company to earn FCC approval for its 5G commercial products.

Earlier this fall, AT&T teamed up with Samsung on the first 5G Innovation Zone to test business use cases for 5G. The goal is to use 5G to enable new capabilities with the Internet of Things (IoT) and to better understand the impact of 5G.

Note: This article was updated to reflect AT&T's announcement on Dec. 4, 2018.

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Image: Michael Borgers, Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a former Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included wri...