Sprint and LG Electronics on Tuesday vowed to deliver America's first 5G smartphone, promising to launch such a device in the first half of 2019. Details on the device remain vague, though Sprint CTO John Saw said the product in question will be "beautifully designed" and deliver "dramatic" improvements in terms of gaming, productivity, and other applications. Dr. Saw already used the same descriptor while talking about the upcoming device as part of Sprint's second-quarter financials, though the company's Tuesday announcement remains significant in the context of confirming its 5G manufacturer partner of choice.
No other details about the handset have been provided by either party and it's still unclear whether the 5G phone in question will launch as part of some established product family from LG. While the world's first 5G-ready handsets are all expected to be high-end devices, not all OEMs are eager to debut the new wireless technology within their existing product lines. One such company is Samsung whose mobile chief DJ Koh recently said the Galaxy S10 series won't be its first mobile family to support 5G once it launches in early 2019, making it unclear whether the lineup will be compatible with the new wireless technology at all. Sprint itself is presently pursuing the goal of offering nationwide 5G coverage by 2020 but is hoping to have its wireless ambitions accelerated through a merger with T-Mobile that has yet to be approved by the federal government.
The newly announced move was already hinted at by Sprint's former CEO Marcelo Claure last winter, but his February promise of a 5G partnership with a "leading Korean manufacturer" was originally interpreted as an allusion to Samsung, especially given how LG has so far been relatively quiet about its ambitions to embrace the next generation of wireless connectivity. LG North America chief William Cho said the upcoming 5G smartphone will mark yet another episode in Sprint and LG's 20-year history of collaboration. LG's first 5G smartphone is likely to be released with a premium price tag but it remains to be seen whether the company ends up selling it outside of the United States as well. The South Korean firm traditionally refreshes its high-end G series of smartphones in the first half of every year but no details about the G8 ThinQ or however its next addition to the said lineup will be called have yet emerged as the device is still likely in an early planning phase. Besides LG and Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, Motorola, and Lenovo already confirmed they'll start launching 5G-enabled Android handsets next year and more OEMs are expected to follow suit in the near future.