5G has been the favorite buzzword at MWC here in Barcelona for the past few years, but 2019 is when it truly arrived. Now that it’s here, all anyone can talk about are foldable phones.
The next-generation network technology promises blazing speeds, smooth and stable connections and new possibilities for VR, self-driving cars and robotics. This being the big new thing for the mobile industry, all the players — from phone makers and infrastructure vendors to chipmakers and wireless carriers — have been desperate to demonstrate how ready they are.
But at Mobile World Congress, there was far more buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X than about the early 5G devices being shown off. The lack of attention paid to all the 5G phones makes you wonder whether all the racing and chest-beating was truly necessary, and serves as a reminder that the next-generation wireless technology is still in its early days.
Part of the problem is that 5G being “here” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s here foryou. With early coverage being quite sparse, industry experts agree that adoption won’t really kick off until late 2019 and into next year.
“5G radios and phones will be better in 2020,” said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester. “Consumers will continue to pay attention to the basics of price, screen size and cameras, with 5G an afterthought until it comes on more affordable phones and without a pricey monthly plan.”