MWC 2019 in Barcelona marked the debut of the first batch of 5G smartphones. Indeed, 5G was all anyone talked about at the mobile trade show. Except for Apple, every major handset maker plans to launch a 5G phone early this year. Here were the 5G smartphones at MWC 2019:
OnePlus, which promised last year that it would be among the first to hop on the 5G train, didn’t have a handset to announce, but it did demo a prototype and announce an initiative for 5G app developers.
Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone vendor, unveiled its first 5G phone just days before MWC during its Unpacked event in San Francisco. Oppo on Saturday at MWC 2019 talked about its first, not-yet-named 5G phone. Samsung, which is on the other end of the spectrum with premium pricing, hasn’t said what it will charge for its Galaxy S10 5G or the version of its Galaxy Fold that runs on the faster network. The 4G versions of those devices start at $749 for the Galaxy S10E and $1,980 for the Galaxy Fold.
Huawei showed off its Mate X foldable on Sunday, while Xiaomi detailed its Mi Mix 3 5G that same day. mwc 2019 also marked the debut of LG’s V50 and ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro, while Sony and OnePlus showed off prototypes for devices they’ll launch this year.
OnePlus wants to keep the cost of its first 5G phone “within $1,000,” CEO Pete Lau said during an interview on Monday. In December, he had said OnePlus’ first 5G phone could be $200 to $300 higher than the OnePlus 6T, which starts at $549 (about £499 or AU$774) for the 128GB model with 6GB of RAM. “From the perspective of OnePlus devices, the [higher] cost is [because] the cost of technology has also risen this year,” Lau said Monday. “From our perspective, there’s no better value proposition in the market than a OnePlus device.”
Device makers need to use pricier components like 5G radios/antennas and bigger batteries. Those higher costs will likely flow down to you through more expensive service and phones. The shift to 5G gives carriers and phone makers the chance to charge more for those top speeds at a time they’re not selling as many devices. Last year, smartphone shipments fell for the first time ever in history, according to Strategy Analytics. Globally, they dropped 5 percent to 376 million units, something the research firm called “a landmark event.”
Ultimately, more of the 5G phone price increase could come from the new features that are added. There are higher costs overall for the 5G devices, from the chipset to the antennas, batteries and other components.
“Initially, the price of 5G phones will be higher than 4G phones, that’s for sure,” said Yenchi Lee, senior director of product marketing for MediaTek’s wireless communications business, in an interview Monday. The company this week unveiled its first 5G modem, which will be in smartphones in early 2020.
“I do believe it should be priced at a small premium to 4G,” said Marc Allera, chief executve of UK carrier EE, during a 5G panel at MWC. “But not so much that it slows adoption down.”
None of these pre-standard 5G smart phones will work on any 5G network other than the one they are announced for. No interoperability and no roaming!
The pre-standard 5G carriers all use different frequencies while the smartphone vendors use different chip sets- all of which are variations of 3GPP release 15 New Radio (NR), Non Stand Alone (NSA). They use LTE siignaling/control plane and EPC rather than IMT 2020 control plane and mobile packet core, which has yet to be defined, let alone standardized by ITU-R WP 5D.
All the non radio IMT 2020 standards from ITU-T are works in progress. Hence, all the network slicing, virtualized RAN, software defined network and network virtualization for 5G are all proprietary and will be for at least the next 2 years! So eavery 5G smartphone must be matched with the 5G base station chosen by the network provider for its 5G network. There will be many variations in functionality until the IMT 2020 standards are completed and implemented. Until then, 5G smartphones and other 5G endpoints will only work on a single carrier’s 5G network and not any other!