The Korean media has reported that the world smartphone leader Samsung and its struggling compatriot are going to launch the first 5G smartphones at MWC and ship in March.
According to a report by the Korean media outlet Pulse, citing its industry source, that both Samsung and LG will debut their 5G smartphones in February next year. Volume shipment is expected to start in March, which will synchronise with the start of 5G service for consumers by the three operators. All three of them launched limited 5G services for business simultaneously at the beginning of December.
Mobile World Congress has long been the venue for Samsung to showcase its latest Galaxy flagship product. It will be the series’ 10th iteration next year, so we can expect quite a bit of fanfare to go with the occasion. Whether the Galaxy 10 will be built on 5G, or there will be a 5G variant of the product, is up to speculation.
LG has seen its smartphone market share shrinking in recent years and already posted over $400 million loss in the first three quarters of the year. As a result, the head of its Mobile Communications business was replaced one year into the job. LG would desperately need something to excite the market if the company still decides to stay in the handset market. The expected 5G product could be a new model of its flagship G series, or the new head of its mobile business could decide to rewrite its product portfolio.
Both companies are expected to build their first 5G smartphones on the newly launched Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, which we have reported in detail. Samsung was one of the illustrious partners to adorn the launch event, but LG was absent. With a long line of OEMs, especially the Chinese smartphone makers showing strong interest in the new Snapdragon, we can expect more 5G handsets to be launched in Barcelona come February than those from the Korean stalwarts.
The new LG V30 is the first phone that can use the 600 MHz band, which is especially handy for TMUS following its latest piece of premature triumphalism.
A couple of weeks ago the magenta army started banging on about how big its spectrum is thanks to winning some nice, long-range 600 MHz band in the recent auction. At the time this was an especially pointless piece of posturing – even by Legere’s lofty standards – since there were no devices that supported that band.
Now LG has come to the rescue with the launch of its new flagship smartphone – the V30 – at the IFA consumer electronics show, which is the first to support the band. Typically TMUS has had the nerve to claim even this as a victory by trying to infer that the two week wait for a single supporting phone is some kind of herculean achievement. Conveniently overlooked is the fact that the V30 is still months away from finding its way onto US shelves.
“We’re lighting up our new super spectrum for LTE and laying the foundation for 5G so fast we’re making the other guys’ heads spin – and with the LG V30, everything is coming together in record time,” ranted TMUS CEO John Legere. “While the carriers try to fake their way to 5G and back off unlimited to keep their networks from caving even more, the Un-carrier’s building the future of wireless and a bigger, better, faster, future-proof network.”
“They said it wouldn’t be possible,” raved TMUS CTO Neville Ray. “They said it wouldn’t be quick. Clearly, they don’t know T-Mobile. Smartphones are coming, we just lit up another location with LTE on 600 MHz and we’re laying a foundation for nationwide 5G at the same time. The carriers must get tired of T-Mobile continually running circles ‘round them!” And breathe.
TMUS also threw Ericsson a bone by acknowledging its role in a claimed 5G network rollout Ray first shouted about at an Ericsson event at MWC this year. Ericsson is specifically providing the kit for 5G over 600 MHz. “The US has hit another milestone with the historic rollout of 5G-ready technology in record-breaking time,” effused Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm. “The work we’re doing with T-Mobile on its low-band spectrum is paving the way for 5G in rural America and nationwide.”
Ericsson is also making sweet, sweet 5G with Softbank in Japan, issuing an especially short and inconsequential press release today saying they will do a proof of concept trial over the 4.5 GHz band in urban areas once Softbank gets a license to do so. Why that warranted a special announcement all of its own is not clear.
The world’s second biggest consumer electronics show is increasingly all about connected devices as IoT becomes endemic.
IFA has always been a strange event to report on, with sexy smartphones sitting incongruously alongside washing machines and other frumpy domestic appliances. But with the irresistible ubiquity of connectivity those two words are increasingly colliding in a more substantial way. IFA technically opens tomorrow, but just as with MWC most of the juicy stuff comes out early.
As probably the world’s biggest consumer electronics company Samsung usually steals the show, but the big launch of the definitely-not-explosive-in-any-way-honest Galaxy Note 8 happened a week ago. Instead Samsung focused on wearables – specifically the kind of fitness-focused smartwatch that seems to be all the rage these days.
Gear Sport is the main offering in this category. Samsung has wisely gone for a circular form factor for this smartwatch and, apart from that and the usual suite of sensors and software designed to cater to the fitness obsessive’s every need, the emphasis is on ruggedization, including 50m water resistance.
The same applies to the more stripped-down Gear Fit2, which Samsung calls an ‘advanced GPS fitness band’. Both products have partnered with iconic pose-pouch swim brand Speedo to support its swim-tracking platform Speedo On, ensuring you can now humble-brag on social media about your trip to the pool too. Lastly there are some Bluetooth ear buds called Gear IconX. Watch the video below to get a sense of just how much of a better person you will be if you buy all this new Samsung stuff.
IFA tends to be where phablets are launched, and in the absence of the Note 8 the biggest news seems to be in the form of LG’s V30 6-inch flagship smartphone. The emphasis seems to be on video capture and playback. Claiming the first F1.6 aperture camera lens, the first glass Crystal Clear Lens, the first OLED FullVision display and Cine Video mode for producing movie-quality videos.
The phone, which also features some co-branding with premium audio brand B&O, seem to be well received and compared favourably to LG’s previous flagship effort. LG, of course, is also a huge CE brand so it has launched a bunch of other stuff, much of which will offer connectivity in the off chance we ever solve the smart fridge puzzle. Oh, and it looks like Sony and Huawei are among the other major brands to whack out new smartphones at the show.
One possible step forward for the connected home may be the current trend for devices to feature in-built support for smart assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. LG went big on this and seems optimistic that, while we’re still not prepared to delegate the weekly shop to the fridge, we may be happy to talk to it.
“The development of voice recognition technology plays an crucial role in advancing our own IoT and smart technologies,” said Song Dae-hyun, President of LG’s home appliance bit. “By adhering to LG’s Open Platform philosophy, we’re able to deliver a diverse range of benefits and services for our customers that is unrivaled in the industry. By strengthening our relationships with Google, Amazon and other players in this space, we’re making amazing headway in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Plenty of other devices have been launched that support either or both of these platforms and that trend is likely to continue at CES next January. Apple’s Siri is notably absent from most of these announcements and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how Apple’s closed approach to these things can thrive in the very heterogeneous home appliance environment. Even Microsoft seems to have got the memo.
Microsoft is offering a different take on virtual reality in the form of ‘mixed reality’. In theory this was expected to be a mix of VR and augmented reality – superimposing digital images on the real world – with some external motion-tracking tech thrown in for good measure.
Microsoft has been banging on about this for a while, and the price points are quite aggressive, but initial, appropriately mixed, reviews indicate it’s struggling to justify the hype. Nonetheless Asus and Dell have launched mixed reality products at the show as part of a general Microsoft love-in incorporating new PCs, etc.