Samsung officially began rolling out its Galaxy S10 5G in Korea last week and while the device is largely regarded as one of the best available, there are reportedly a few issues with its namesake connectivity feature causing trouble for early buyers.
Complaints about 5G networking itself and the underlying hardware don't appear to be surfacing, at least for the time being, but the flagship handset does appear to struggle substantially when shifting from 5G back to 4G LTE. Specifically, users in Korea are reporting that the device simply stops connecting when they move from an area that has a 5G network signal available to one that doesn't, resulting in disconnects.
The problem occurred on all of the countries major mobile providers — including KT, SK Telecom, and LG U+ — with customers reporting that occurred at least from the launch day through April 8.
Why this isn't a surprise
Although the vast majority of the hardware in Samsung's latest release has now been thoroughly tested, following the earlier launch of the more standard 4G LTE versions of the Galaxy S10 flagship, the 5G radios have not. At least, the technology has not been tested in the real world at scale.
Korea was the first region to see what is essentially the first 5G mobile gadget to market. By comparison, Verizon is expected to receive the same device first in the US for a timed exclusive but that isn't predicted to happen — based on recent leaks — until at least May 16.
In Korea, KT claims to have surpassed 30,000 subscribers on its service by the end of the second day the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G was on sale.
As with all new technologies, first-generation gadgets are bound to have some hiccups and in the case of 5G, that is a significantly higher number of users than was likely ever put to the test in pre-launch testing. While there's no guarantee that all of the new users are connecting all at once, that's the total number of users across both new 5G mobile hardware and new 5G network-side components and standards. So there's a lot of room for error.
The blame game
It isn’t immediately clear whether the problem or problems leading to the issues has been addressed yet or whether the fault lies with Samsung or the carriers. That the disconnections were reported across all of the region's providers seems to indicate that Samsung’s hardware or software is to blame but carriers point out that the network hasn’t been ruled out of the equation.
For Samsung’s part, the company is said to have responded with an early software patch to reduce time in switching between network types and optimize that entire process further. Samsung also says it has effectively done all it can to try and rectify the situation.
As already noted, the carriers have stated that optimization problems in the network aren’t able to be ruled out yet but that the number of available cells and other related aspects aren’t to blame. Instead, the problem could stem from a lack of optimization in switching between the cells themselves.
KT has gone far enough to deny that any complaints were ever brought directly to its attention and notes that no problems have been seen on its end of things. SK Telecom and LG U+ claim that the problem was addressed at launch with a software update to the related base stations.