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Faster than a bullet? ZTE is going full speed ahead with the Gigabit Phone

zte gigabit phone axon  mini review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Why it matters to you

Phones that are capable of gigabit download speeds? As we approach 5G connectivity, our smartphone experience is about to get much faster. ZTE is giving us a taste with the Gigabit Phone.

The flagship smartphone that ZTE is showing off at Mobile World Congress is one you won’t be able to buy anytime soon. That’s because the Gigabit Phone is a “forward-looking” concept phone that, as the name suggests, showcases the possibility of high-speed data connectivity.

The Gigabit Phone is able to achieve these speeds thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem, which itself is the first “Gigabit Class LTE modem,” with a peak download speed of 1Gbps. The modem has already been used in a Netgear router, launched with Ericsson and Telstra in Australia. The modem comes packaged with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 processor in ZTE’s prototype Gigabit Phone.

“It’s kind of an early view into what will materialize as a commercial product later,” Jeff Yee, vice president of technology planning and partnerships at ZTE, told Digital Trends. “The final availability will be dependent on a number of factors — carriers would be one aspect of it, and also our involvement with the carrier”

As mentioned, the phone is capable of downloading data at speeds of 1Gbps, which is a lot. This, ZTE said, opens up the world of streaming VR video, instant access to files stored in the cloud, and hi-res music streaming to owners of the phone. It all sounds very exciting. After all, who doesn’t want speeds normally associated with home broadband internet connections on their phone?

Various carriers around the world, including Telstra, Singtel, Swisscom, and EE, have all been running 1Gbps trials and real-world tests over the past year. In the U.S., T-Mobile has been doing the same, and at the end of 2016 released a video demonstrating the technology on an unreleased prototype phone.

Gigabit mobile connectivity speeds are being viewed as a crucial early step towards 5G, which is still many years away from widespread public use. ZTE’s Gigabit Phone, and the networks supporting it, gives us a taste of what it’ll feel like to have Google Fiber-like speeds on the move.

Article originally published in February by Julian Chokkattu. Updated on 02-26-2017 by Julian Chokkattu: Added in official details about the use of the Snapdragon X16 and 835.