Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. on Monday announced their plans to launch 5G smartphones in the U.S. within the first half of 2019, confirming long-held industry expectations they would compete with Apple’s iPhone.
The two companies said in a statement they would unveil a prototype, using Qualcomm Inc’s modern chips, at the chipmaker’s annual Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii this week.
“5G will usher in a new era of mobile connectivity, allowing people to connect to data, experiences and other people in ways never thought possible,” said Brian Higgins, Vice President of wireless device and product marketing at Verizon. “Together, Samsung and Verizon have made huge gains in bringing 5G commercial services to consumers in several cities. Now, we’re partnering to create a smartphone to put the power of 5G in the palm of your hand.”
While Verizon is leading the charge to trial 5G in some cities next year, industry analysts say the higher-speed networks are unlikely to be widely available until the middle of the next decade.
Apple is engaged in a legal battle with Qualcomm that has led it to stop using its modem chips, and the Cupertino, California company is widely expected instead to use Intel modems, which will not be ready for production until late 2019. Qualcomm has also partnered with other smartphone makers who have committed to 5G phones for next year.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Apple would wait until at least 2020 to release its first 5G iPhones.
The delay could make it easier for Samsung and Verizon to win customers who are eager to connect to 5G networks, which will provide a leap forward in mobile data speeds, up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks.
U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp is also working with LG Electronics USA to launch a 5G smartphone in the U.S. in the first half of 2019.
Verizon launched its first commercial 5G service in October when its 5G Home offering went live in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Chief Financial Officer Matthew Ellis said last month that the Company plans to target a broader audience for its 5G home broadband product following the adoption of global standards for the technology.