Huawei's first Android smartphones capable of communicating with the fifth generation of mobile networks will launch in mid-2019, rotating Chief Executive Officer Eric Xu said at this year's edition of Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The industry veteran clarified that Huawei is specifically aiming to introduce its premier 5G-enabled mobile devices next June, suggesting the firm may announce more than one such offering at once.
Prior to debuting 5G-ready Android smartphones, Huawei is seeking to commercialize chips and other solutions designed to operate in conjunction with the new mobile service standard. Those products will be launched next March, Mr. Xu said. Huawei's commercial technologies are likely to be based on the 3GPP's Release 16 specification which is set to be completed by the end of the current year. The Release 15 configuration was finalized last December and while it was introduced in the form of the world's first implementable 5G standard, the solutions it encompassed by the protocol are exclusively non-standalone in nature, i.e. require existing 4G LTE infrastructure in order to operate. Following a recent 3GPP summit in Busan, South Korea, the wireless industry is one step closer to finalizing a fully standalone 5G specification, allowing for more versatility with buildouts.
The Release 16 configuration should also allow for truly massive connectivity and ultra-low latency required for emerging technologies such as self-driving vehicles and remote surgery. Huawei's first non-standalone 5G solutions will be introduced this September, whereas the Release 16-based ones are meant to be introduced during the aforementioned March 2019 window. Samsung may beat the Chinese tech giant to the punch with 5G smartphones, with recent reports indicating the South Korean handset maker could debut such products as early as the first quarter of 2019. Mr. Xu's latest comments suggest Huawei accelerated its roadmap for 5G-ready Android devices seeing how the company was previously aiming to commercialize them in the third quarter of the following year. Alternatively, the CEO may have simply been referring to June in the context of official announcements, whereas the smartphones themselves might still not hit the store shelves before Q3 2019.