We all know that 5G, the successor to current mobile internet technology 4G, is on its way. The tech, or an early version of it, was in testing in Japan as far back as 2014 and it’s getting ever closer to launch. So close, in fact, that Huawei is going to be launching its first 5G-capable smartphone in 2019.
That’s the word according to the company’s Western European Consumer Business Group President, Walter Ji, speaking to tech website T3. Pretty much verbatim, actually, as Ji told the website that “…next year, we’re bringing 5G smartphones into the market”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
What he didn’t say is exactly which smartphones will have 5G but instead singled out the company’s P-series and Mate series devices as the most likely contenders for being the first to carry 5G antennas. Ji said, “We have two flagship products. In March, we have the P-series, and in October, we have the Mate series. So it will depend on how the chipset develops, because the 5G needs high power consumption.”
There are still a few obstacles to overcome before the tech launches in a Huawei smartphone, though. At present, 5G chips are too large to fit into a phone, at least in a manner than means we get to keep our slim profiles and end-to-end screens. If that problem isn’t overcome by the time the P-series updates — likely the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro — launch, then “…for sure it will be in the Mate series next September”.
Should we be getting excited about 5G here? Local mobile operator MTN has demonstrated 5G right here at home, by putting a man inside a car, blacking out his windows and making a VR headset the sole method of seeing outside. We’re not going to try that one ourselves, but we’re plenty excited for 5G to make its inevitable appearance.
The biggest question, really, is how long it’ll take local operators to roll out the necessary infrastructure upgrades? Our guess? 2019’s 5G-capable handsets aren’t going to see much use here in SA before 2020.