Sprint officially announced it will debut a standards-based 5G smartphone from Samsung this summer, marking the carrier’s third 5G device so far.
The device has dual-mode connectivity, supporting Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum for both 5G and LTE. It will also support 1.9 GHz spectrum and 800 MHz spectrum, as well as additional LTE bands for roaming.
Sprint isn’t revealing additional specifications or exact launch timing until a later date.
AT&T and Verizon each previously announced plans to deliver millimeter wave 5G-capable smartphones from Samsung in early 2019, with AT&T executives confirming last month that the carrier will also launch a sub-6 GHz phone during the second half of 2019.
The phones will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platform and the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules.
“We are proud that our longstanding relationship with Samsung has delivered some of the most innovative mobile technologies to our customers over the years – and this tradition continues with 5G,” said Dr. John Saw, Sprint chief technology officer, in a statement. “Samsung is one of our key 5G network infrastructure Massive MIMO providers, so we are delighted that they will also deliver one of our first 5G smartphones, putting blazing fast connectivity right into our customers’ hands.”
Sprint’s VP of product engineering & development Ryan Sullivan, first confirmed to PCMag in December that a 5G smartphone with Samsung was in the works, though timing was not unveiled until today.
When it comes to cost, Sullivan during an interview with Wireless Week at the time, said that for device prices, he believed 5G products would command a premium to their counterparts on the 4G side—understandably because of the R&D investment that goes into early products and extra 5G components.
“I think anyone that launches 5G products in 2019, those products are immediately going to be at the top of the premium portfolio,” Sullivan said. In that sense, Sprint has to decide how to market to customers to make it affordable, he noted, either through promotions or subsidies, for example.
Then there’s the aspect of plan pricing.
“I think we also have to look at giving a value proposition to the customer on the service that they have and the class of service that they get on a 5G device that differentiates and makes it worth it for them to actually invest in that product,” Sullivan said.
This comes as U.S. consumers, on average are waiting longer (more than 2.5 years) to upgrade their smartphones, according to 2018 research from The NPD Group. However, as noted by PCMag, the launch of 5G and its promised benefits will likely entice consumers to upgrade more quickly.
“With the debut of 5G networks in the coming years, OEMs and mobile operators will have the opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of 5G services and convince them to upgrade to devices boasting a 5G chipset,” Brad Akyuz, director and analyst at NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement.
Sprint has said it will launch its mobile 5G network in nine cities during the first half of 2019. While this year will see 5G network and device launches, particularly in the U.S., Sullivan said he didn’t expect mass market adoption of the next-gen technology until at least 2020. Apple isn’t expected to debut a 5G smartphone until 2020.
In late December, AT&T announced a limited launch of its mobile 5G network in select parts of 12 cities. AT&T revealed that in spring 2019 it will start offering the 5G Netgear Mobile Hotspot for $499 and 15GB of data for $70 per month.
Sprint’s latest 5G device follows earlier announcements that the carrier will debut a 5G smartphone from LG, expected in the first half of 2019, and a smart hub from HTC.
In conjunction with CES taking place in Las Vegas this week, Sprint also introduced Sprint TREBL with Magic Box, a smart home small cell solution providing enhanced LTE coverage.