Apr 11, 2019
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
I just came back from Chicago – one of the two cities where Verizon Wireless last week launched the world’s first commercial 5G network along with the first 5G-upgradeable smartphone, the Motorola moto z3 with a 5G moto mod. The aim of this visit to the Windy City was to get a real-world taste of what 5G technology along with premium Android 5G smartphones using the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform are poised to bring to consumers this year. Beyond doing speed and coverage tests — something that the press already reported in numerous articles and social media posts following the network launch — my colleague Jason and I focused on getting a feel for how 5G will enable new and exciting user experiences. These are the five key insights I took away:
1. All things video are about to get much better with 5G
Most user applications involving high-quality video require fast transmission of lots of data — and 5G can make them all even better. We downloaded the full HD movie “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago” in about 90 seconds, something that usually takes several minutes over legacy cellular or Wi-Fi networks. We seamlessly watched video streamed in true 4K resolution, hopping back-and-forth with virtually no buffering or lag. We also experienced smooth, jitter-free group video calls with multiple feeds over 5G. If 4G made video-over-cellular a practical thing, 5G is ready to make it central to our everyday smartphone experiences.
2. 5G is fast, and makes you want more
It only takes a day with 5G to make “tens of Mbps” a thing of the past. Pretty much all tests we did on 5G delivered multiple hundreds of megabits per second — topping the limit of the speed test app consistently. It’s similar to the broadband speeds you get with a premium home internet connection using cable or fiber. And this is just the start. As the use of wider frequency spectrum assets up to 800 MHz in millimeter wave (mmWave) becomes more prevalent, 5G uploads and dual 4G/5G connectivity could make 5G much faster very soon. These speeds will make you wish for 5G coverage everywhere — operators know it and are working to deploy 5G much faster than it took with the transition from 3G to 4G.
3. 5G can take emerging applications into the mainstream
Many people ask, “what can you do with 5G that’s not possible with 4G?” I believe a more illustrative approach is to wonder which emerging applications that are “just fine” today can be “great” with 5G.
Two scenarios that fit this description are cloud-based gaming and augmented reality. Both work OK with 4G, but it might well be 5G that takes them into the mainstream — particularly those experiences that require not only plenty of bandwidth but also ultra-fast responsiveness (i.e., low-latency). We tried these two applications in Chicago, and both show promise. The challenge now is in the hands of developers worldwide to advance these experiences and create the new “killer app” with 5G. The very large Android developer ecosystem is surely up to the task.
4. It’s a marvel to experience technology once supposed to be impossible
5G was not supposed to be commercially available today, but it is. mmWave was thought to be impractical for use in smartphones — signal propagation was too limited, mobility was too hard to manage, and it was too challenging to integrate the necessary components into a small form factor. Once again, Qualcomm Technologies engineers defied convention to make the impossible, inevitable. After years of research and development, 5G is here.
5. You can get 5G this year
5G is now a commercial reality with major operators rolling out 5G networks and virtually all major Android manufacturers launching premium 5G phones in 2019. I walked into a Verizon Wireless store in Chicago where you can peruse 5G plans and check out the Motorola moto z3 with the 5G moto mod, which allows you to get a 5G smartphone experience and is more affordable than many 4G phones today.
In a matter of months, 5G will be offered in many more places. To be ready for 5G and enjoy its benefits, make sure your next phone is a 5G phone with the Snapdragon Mobile Platform. You can start looking at the Snapdragon device finder to find the phone that’s right for you — 5G is about to be available sooner than you think.