Sprint has unveiled its plan to deploy one of the first 5G in networks in the first half of 2019, rolling out the fast service to metro downtown areas in nine cities. So what phones will it be able to use?
First, let’s clarify where Sprint’s 5G network will show up first. Starting in May, the service will go live in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City, and will then spread to Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. “in the first half of 2019,” per a Sprint press release.
This 5G network won’t be available across these entire cities at first, mind – only particular parts of their downtown metropolitan areas. New York City’s coverage will start at 30 square miles between Midtown and lower Manhattan, for example. Meanwhile it will start in 230 square miles of the Dallas-Fort Worth region and 110 square miles in Kansas City, according to the Kansas City Star.
In total, the initial 5G coverage area will span more than 1,000 square miles across all nine cities.
Sprint will surely continue to expand their 5G network as the year rolls on, and is using Massive MIMO radios to augment coverage and simultaneously meet consumers’ 5G and LTE needs. Once they’re up, though, expect a ridiculous upgrade in speed: in one demo video, Sprint showed someone getting 421 Mbps download speeds within their Chicago coverage area.
But you won’t get those speeds unless you use certain phones – not just ones that play nice with Sprint’s network, but also pack the tech (specifically, processors and modems) designed with 5G in mind. Without further ado, here are the phones you’ll be able to use on Sprint’s 5G network.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
The first phone you’ll be able to use on Sprint’s next-gen network is the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, which is coming to the service sometime this spring. LG introduced the phone at MWC 2019 as one of the first 5G phones that will hit the market, and it will be the initial device consumers can use on Sprint’s fastest network yet.
The V50 looks very similar to the V40, though it packs more of a punch thanks to the brand-new Snapdragon 855 processor (essential for hooking up to 5G networks). It has the same 6.4-inch OLED screen as its predecessor, yet features a larger 4,000mAh battery, ostensibly to watch more media and for longer with those hyper-fast connection speeds.
We still don’t know how much the V50 5G will cost, but given its predecessor cost $900 (around £690 / AU$1260) at launch, we expect the new version to be around or a bit higher than that.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
One of the biggest, baddest flagship phones will be coming to Sprint’s 5G network sometime this summer. No, literally: the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G’s 6.7-inch AMOLED display is one of the largest we’ve seen in a flagship phone, at least until the foldables start rolling out.
Everything else about the handset is equally big, from its Snapdragon 855 chipset to its 256GB storage and 8GB of RAM. Like the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, the 5G variant has three rear lenses (12MP wide, 16MP ultra-wide and 12MP telephoto) along with a time of flight (TOF) sensor to measure depth. It’s even got one of these TOF sensors on the front to augment your selfie game.
We also don’t know how much the Galaxy S10 5G will cost. Given that it has another camera and twice the storage capacity of the baseline S10 Plus, which retails for $999 / £899 (about AU$1,398), we expect the S10 5G to be priced above its less powerful kin.
HTC 5G Hub
Okay, this definitely isn’t a phone – but until Sprint announces more compatible handsets, the standalone HTC 5G hub might not be a bad substitute, especially if you already have a powerful device.
The mobile smart hub (the first of its kind, Sprint claims in its press release) lets up to 20 users hook up to it for smooth 5G speed. It even has a 5-inch HD touchscreen for easy setup.
It's unclear how much the hub will cost or when you'll be able to pick one up – presumably when Sprint's 5G network starts coming online in late spring/early summer.
- Here's our rundown of all the 5G phones we're expecting to come out this year