Verizon’s first consumer available 5G phone is likely to feel a little underwhelming to some, as this is a device that is already available - as a 4G phone.
It seems Verizon’s first 5G smartphone will be the Motorola Moto Z3. The confirmation on this has come from a report out of CNET which directly credits Verizon CEO, Hans Vestberg for the details provided during an interview at CES 2019.
Motorola launched the Moto Z3 along with a Moto Mod that adds 5G support and it would seem it is this support which now explains how Verizon will be able to effectively re-release the 4G phone as a 5G phone.
Once Verizon switches on its 5G network, the Moto Z3 will be good to go and the carrier totally intends to market and sell the device as a 5G phone.
Vestberg not only confirmed the Moto Z3 as the carrier’s first 5G phone, but also confirmed the second 5G phone to become available via the carrier will be a Samsung 5G phone solution.
This is the same phone that multiple other carriers have confirmed they intend to carry and Vestberg has made it clear, it will be available via Verizon first.
How long the exclusivity remains in effect remains to be seen although many suggestions have been made that Samsung’s first 5G phone is likely to be a variant of the Galaxy S10. If that is the case then it will be interesting to see if Verizon has indeed managed to secure an exclusivity period on a 5G version of what’s likely to be a very popular smartphone in 2019.
Whether or not it will be the Galaxy S10, however, is still undecided. A recent report from last month suggested that two 5G smartphones from Samsung may actually be on the way to Verizon. Which could mean one is the Verizon-exclusive and one is the Galaxy S10.
The race to 5G is a very real race, and one all of the major carriers in the US are wanting to stake their claim in. Of the usual suspects, both AT&T and Verizon have been extremely vocal on their ambitions and both do plan to properly launch a 5G network in the coming weeks.
The initial consumer version of those network are expected to be bridged through the use of mobile hotspot devices that add 5G functionality to existing devices. In some respects, this is not that different to the Moto Z3 as it too requires the use of an accessory to become 5G operational.
Depending on the nature of the second (Samsung) 5G phone heading to Verizon and whether AT&T is able to launch a 5G phone on its network in between, might dictate who in the market actually launched a 5G network with a 5G phone that’s 5G to its core.
In other words, if Verizon is first to market with a 5G phone that is the Moto Z3, it’s likely AT&T might still look to claim it was the first to market with a proper 5G phone.
These proper claims are not new as both companies have already been playing with marketing and the use of first to claim bragging rights for varying launches related to 5G. There's already been the first to launch a 5G network in general, the first to launch a mobile 5G network in general, the first to launch a 5G hotspot in general, and the first to launch a 5G phone in general.
With first to launch a proper 5G phone in general having now been added to that list.