5G phones won’t take off till 2020, experts warn

Eager to pick up a 5G phone the first moment you can? Well, you’re likely in the minority, according to industry experts at MWC 2019.

Motorola vice president and general manager Anthony Barounas told Trusted Reviews during a press session at MWC that 2019 will be all about educating buyers about the new technology.

“My view is that 5G will take some time. Don’t expect it to have huge usage in the next 12 months. It’ll be about educating them about the new technology at first. I don’t expect there to be volumes of 5G devices sold in the next few months; there won’t be big volumes. But it will create a quality pyramid for the next wave of devices,” he said.

5G phones are a key trend at the show with numerous phone makers unveiling 5G-ready phones. Highlights include the Galaxy S10 5G, mysterious 5G OnePlus, Moto G7 5G Moto Mod and Huawei Mate X.

Related: 5G Phones

Chief of Research at CCS Insight Ben Wood agreed with Barounas and told Trusted Reviews he was surprised how many 5G phones have been unveiled already.

“Everybody is a bit surprised how many 5G phones are the show and look ready. We think the network operators are spoiled for choice. There are more phones than they need for their initial portfolios,” he said

CCS Insight CEO Shaun Collins added that he doesn’t expect every 5G phone sold to actually take advantage of the new networking tech.

“We expect it to be a great number 5G phones sold that don’t connect to 5G. The sales will be far lower than the connection figures,” he said.

5G is a next generation technology that will be deployed in select city hubs, including London, by the end of the year. It aims to offer significantly faster gigabit per second data transfer speeds that will let you do things like download an entire Netflix series in minutes.

We had a demo look at the technology at Motorola’s stand and were impressed how fast the tech worked. During the 5G demo the test network was able to stream Shadow of Tomb Raider at 60fps in 1080p in “just below Ultra” graphics settings via Nvidia’s GeForce Now service. You’d normally need a mid-range gaming PC to do this.

Related: What is 5G?

Motorola general manager for Moto Z Jeff Snow mirrored the analysts’ sentiment in a separate interview where he highlighted the immaturity of the market as a key reason the company chose to focus on building a mod, rather than a dedicated 5G smartphone.

“We have a strong tradition based around cellular technologies. Our team of experts is based in Chicago and when you talk about the array of spectrum going down to sub 6GHz [for 5G], it’s more challenging than anything that’s come before it and we’re moving faster than we’ve ever done before,” he said.

“We need to make sure not to compromise consumer experiences. They won’t just grab it because it’s new if the services are bad. That’s why we’re thinking [about] how many array monitors you need in a device to not compromise quality and all the other challenges first.”

Planning on grabbing a 5G phone this year? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews

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