As the chip supplier to almost half the phone market, Qualcomm should be able to make a decent guess about when 5G will condense from vapourware into something more solid.
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Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm's president, predicted last week that 5G will be in mid-range handsets in 2020. That's a faster ramp into the mass market than 4G had.
The first real LTE phone to be approved by the FCC was in 2010, (not counting the 4G branding shenanigans by Sprint), but it was not until 2013 - the brief heyday of the Lumia range - until it reached reach lower price points for three years. A year or 18 months is quite ambitious. Improbable as it might seem, we may even see handsets reach the market before the spectrum is there, as Amon explained in the same interview.
(Traditionally the networks have launched with a dearth of handsets; GSM was once jokingly referred to as "God Send Mobiles").
Qualcomm announced its first 5G-ready SoC, the Snapdragon 855, in Hawaii last week.
The Moto Mod we told you about here is currently the only working "5G phone in the world", built using an 855.
However, it is up to phone-makers whether to include the 5G modem with their 855 phones. Many will launch with LTE only. And in any case, the 855 only uses 5G NSA (Non Standalone) at first, which means some communication with the towers will be over 4G protocols. FDD and 5G Standalone will be added to the 855 later in 2019, Amon said. ®