For the first time, an OPPO smartphone has successfully established 5G internet access in the laboratories operated by the Chinese device maker. This announcement was made on Sina Weibo by Brain Shen, OPPO's Global Vice President. OPPO utilized a prototype 5G smartphone based on the design of the OPPO R15. The tech firm then modified the hardware of the device by incorporating 5G components, including the System board, an RF (radio frequency) module, the RFFE (radio frequency front-end) circuitry, and antennas. To further prove that it has successfully established a 5G connection between the network and its prototype handset, the company shared an image of the device which shows the 5G icon located near the upper right-hand corner of the user interface.
Background: OPPO aims to become the first brand to release a 5G-capable commercial smartphone next year, and to achieve this goal, the company has forged partnerships with industry and research partners. OPPO also established research centers for 5G product development and commercialization. Back in April, OPPO opened research institutes that focus on both 5G networks and artificial intelligence. These research centers are located in Beijing and Shanghai in China, Yokohama in Japan, and in Silicon Valley in the United States. OPPO is also collaborating with researchers from the New York University, the Beijing University of Science and Technology, and the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications for the development of 5G products and technologies. OPPO is also a part of the 5G Pilot program established by the American semiconductor firm Qualcomm. This program was developed for partner companies to jointly explore the opportunities for innovation in mobile technologies that are provided by 5G networks.
These partnerships and initiatives allowed OPPO to claim industry firsts, specifically in the field of 5G product development. Last May, OPPO is the first manufacturer to initiate a 5G-based 3D video call. The device maker utilized a modified version of the OPPO R11s that contains a structured light camera setup for capturing 3D portrait information. The information obtained by the cameras is then used to reconstruct a 3D image of the object or the person at the receiving device. Meanwhile, the company also successfully tested a 5G-capable version of the OPPO R15 last August. This device sports the Snapdragon X50 modem from Qualcomm, and it is compliant with the 5G New Radio standard. Aside from 3D video calls, OPPO is exploring other possible use cases for 5G networks and devices, which may include online gaming and augmented reality.
Impact: It seems that support for 5G networks will become an important feature of flagship smartphones next year, and numerous handset manufacturers have already announced their intention to sell 5G-capable devices in 2019. Among the companies that will release 5G-compatible handsets next year include OnePlus, Xiaomi, Honor, and Huawei. Furthermore, recent rumors claim that Samsung will also release a variant of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ that supports 5G networks. However, the usability of these smartphones will likely be limited, as the coverage of 5G networks will still be restricted to select urban areas in the near future.