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5G will herald a new invention age, Qualcomm says at Mobile World Congress

Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, announced a raft of new innovations being powered by 5G during a press conference at Mobile World Congress. Jeremy Kaplan / Digital Trends

Over the past three decades, the information age connected everyone and everything. But there’s a period of accelerated innovation coming, explained Qualcomm during a press conference at Mobile World Congress 2019. And it’s all due to one thing: 5G.

5G will usher in what we call the invention age,” said Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm.

“5G is here. It’s here in 2019.” — Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm

Unlimited data consumption, more akin to electricity than data, and the analytics and A.I. to study the vast flood of data that will travel along 5G networks, will enable billions of things to be connected. It’s a huge transformation for the wireless industry — and if the promised changes come true, a vast change to society as well.

“That’s a very important transition for the industry,” Amon said. “And 5G is here. It’s here in 2019.” 5G networks were originally intended for release in 2020, but due to carrier demand and a very real need for the greater bandwidth and lower latency, Qualcomm moved up the launch date and expedited the entire industry. “We have accelerated 5G to 2019,” Amon said.

When will 5G devices arrive?

5G devices are coming, and they’re not merely “okay.” There’s a slew of new phones coming, Amon said, noting the Galaxy S10 family, as well announcements coming at the show from many other companies. And 5G deployments are happening  right now in the U.S., Asia, and across the world. Qualcomm is working to develop the standard further as well.

“We’re going to make this 5G transition happen,” Amon said.

Key to the 5G rollout is the Qualcomm 855 chip, which is two times faster than the nearest Android competitor, Amon said. That device is helping make 5G smartphones a reality, not merely hype: The chip is powering essentially every 5G smartphone unveiled at MWC, including the Galaxy S10 5G phone announced last week at a special Samsung event.

Dr. June Hee Lee, SVP and head of technology strategy for Samsung, joined Qualcomm at the press event as well, congratulating Qualcomm on the launch of 5G and thanking him for the partnership. “After years of trials and testing, we are putting the most advanced network innovations directly in the hands of consumers,” Lee said. “Galaxy S10 5G running on a 5G network unlocks entire new possibilities.”

But really, you’re asking: When can I get one? Amon’s got an answer for you.

“When can you get one? Devices are going to arrive in the second quarter of this year around the world,” Amon said. That means in the hands of consumers, not just available to businesses, in North America, Europe, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, and more.

What will 5G mean on Android devices?

AR will be powered by 5G, and gaming will be a neat area as well. But the future isn’t in the hands of Qualcomm, said Bob Borchers, VP of marketing for platforms and ecosystems from Google, who joined Qualcomm at the press event. And it’s not up to Google either. It’s up to the community writing apps for Android.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the developers. I can only imagine. They will do things that will amaze us,” Borchers said.

“We’re excited to be part of the vibrant ecosystem along with Qualcomm,” he added. The open nature of the Android platform allows for rapid evolution, he noted, making Android ideal for the launch of 5G, unlike other closed networks. Borchers didn’t mention Apple by name, but it’s clear that we won’t see an Apple smartphone on 5G until 2020 at the earliest — despite what consumers think.

5G will be power hungry, of course. To address that, Amon said, the company is building new technology to address battery life. Called Qualcomm 5G PowerSave, it involves a variety of technologies that brings essentially the same battery life as in standard 4G-powered phones. And this will be supported by the first wave of smartphones.

“Hopefully this is the much awaited capability that will put to rest the industry concern about battery life,” Amon said.

Other concerns frequently voiced in the walkup to MWC include doubts about the availability of phones, the size and shape of the phones, and the effectiveness of millimeter wave networks. Amon said Qualcomm has addressed all of these concerns as well, unveiling a raft of announcements that underscore the incredible effort Qualcomm is putting  into 5G. 5G phones won’t just be fast; they’ll be beautiful.

There’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem, the world’s fastest 5G modem, supporting download speeds up to 7 Gbps. It’s paired with Qualcomm’s first mmWavfe antenna, the QTM525 module, and a new envelope tracking solution — a feature carriers will need to ensure the quality of network transmission. The company also announced a fully integrated mobile platform combining Snapdragon processors and 5G networking tech — a chipset that is meant to accelerate the adoption of 5G and the speed to market for developers.

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