The first 5G New Radio standard is out and telecoms have already announced their plans to roll out their technologies in the coming year or two. But consumers won’t be able to take advantage of 5G unless their phone has a modem that supports it.
Qualcomm, for one, is still working on its Snapdragon X50 modem for a future mobile chipset release and it’s almost positively going to be on what we’d call the Snapdragon 855 in 2019.
Chinese manufacturer ZTE wanted to get a hold of that buzzword “5G” and announced at CES 2018 that it will introduce a 5G smartphone either late this year or early next year. Chairman Lixin Cheng told Bloomberg that other devices could come in the form of a tablet or wireless modem for homes.
Globally, ZTE accounted for 2 percent of all smartphone shipments in the third quarter of 2017, ranking ninth in the industry. In the United States, the company had ranked as high as third back in 2013, but has since been working outside of the top five. After a period selling exclusively to the unlocked market, it worked with Verizon to bring an LTE-enabled flip phone and AT&T to carry the foldable Axon M smartphone. Putting out a vision like this could help its perception as a dark horse in the OEM rat race.