Less than 24 hours after Verizon announced it will be carrying Samsung's first-ever 5G Android smartphone, AT&T scrambled to follow suit, making it a point to stress that its handset will essentially be the very same device its main rival is scheduled to pick up in 2019 as well, according to a statement a company spokesperson provided to AndroidHeadlines. While none of the involved parties are talking any specific names yet, both of their announcements are in line with recent reports about a 5G variant of the Galaxy S10+ Android flagship being in the works.
A clearer release window
Whereas Verizon was vague about the timeline attached to its first 5G-enabled smartphone, AT&T was a bit more loose-lipped in its Tuesday announcement, specifically stating that the Samsung-made product will be launching on its network in spring, which essentially eliminates the possibility of a quarter-one release, even though the Galaxy S10+ or whatever the device in question ends up being may actually be unveiled this winter. The claim corresponds to the industry-wide expectation of the Galaxy S10 line debuting at the next edition of Mobile World Congress, the industry's largest annual trade show that's running from February 25 through February 28. This year's Galaxy S9 series was unveiled at the same event, as did the vast majority of its direct predecessors save for the Galaxy S8 family which was delayed in the aftermath of the Galaxy Note 7 battery fiasco.
A first for Verizon but not AT&T - kind of
AT&T is quick to point out that Samsung's Android smartphone won't be the first 5G product the carrier will be launching - that title will go to a series of "pucks" which will hit the market in the coming weeks once the company's experimental mobile network goes live in select areas of the United States. Whether those hotspots can be put in the same category as full-fledged smartphones is up to debate but AT&T is unsurprisingly looking to highlight the fact that they'll exist whenever it can. The Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant is still sticking with its original goal of servicing a dozen stateside markets with 5G solutions by the end of the year, though it continues to avoid committing to a concrete launch date even as time's running out.
"True" 5G is still somewhat away
While AT&T is now racing to be the first to launch a mobile 5G network and will start selling a Samsung-made handset capable of taking advantage of it this spring — along with Verizon — there's presently no indication that the average American consumer will be able to access the next generation of connectivity until 2020. The initial rollouts will be highly concentrated and devices capable of connecting to 5G infrastructure will almost certainly be few and far between over the course of the next year. If previous major network upgrades are any indication, first-generation 5G products may have issues with battery life and overheating seeing how the new technologies are significantly more taxing on mobile hardware. So, even as Samsung will likely be launching a 5G-ready Galaxy S10+ via Verizon and AT&T next spring and despite the fact that Sprint already confirmed it will follow suit with LG, most consumers in the country are unlikely to be able to get their hands on both 5G coverage and mobile devices that support it next year.