Sprint has announced that it will be allowing Google I/O attendees this year to be among the first to check out its commercial 5G network, with the magic happening on the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, the network’s very first consumer-facing 5G device. Starting after Google I/O, Sprint will begin laying out that same true 5G technology in key markets around the United States. Consumers will be able to try out a wide variety of speed-critical functions on the luxury device, such as watching streaming video in 4K, using in-air gesture commands, and gaming, among other demonstrations.
For the 5G demonstration, Sprint has set up special equipment at the Shoreline Amphitheater that’s capable of using LTE networking and 5G NR in concert. Additionally, there’s an exceedingly generous 100 MHz of total coverage on offer for the event; 60MHz of spectrum used in the 2.5GHz range is earmarked for LTE, while the remaining 40MHz is for 5G. This is all going to be handled with purpose-made 5G networking modules crafted by Ericsson, one of the current leaders in the 5G network equipment space.
As for the device itself, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G sports a notched 6.4-inch screen that doubles as a speaker. Beneath that screen, you’ve got a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor paired up with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Much like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G bears separate LTE and 5G radios that can work in concert to deliver connection speeds well above the gigabit threshold. It’s also got three high-resolution cameras on the back and two on the front, ensuring that 5G-powered augmented reality experiences will be top-notch. Naturally, there’s also a 4,000mAh battery on board to avoid letting the extra battery drain of 5G deliver subpar battery life, as was seen with early LTE phones.
The aforementioned Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be coming to Sprint in the summer, and HTC will be bringing its own 5G hardware in the form of the HTC 5G Hub, with any sort of 5G smartphone from the company notably absent at this point. The Galaxy S10 5G is much like the existing Galaxy S10 Plus, but with a bigger screen, double the storage, and a bigger battery. HTC’s 5G Hub, meanwhile, is essentially a tablet on a stand, which can be used as is or hooked up to other devices to share its network connection, video output, and more.
Sprint’s initial 5G markets will include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. Next on the roadmap will be Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, Houston, and Washington, D.C. The company is expected to have somewhere around 1,000 square miles of 5G coverage across those key metros by June of this year. Where the roadmap will go from there and how fast things will move along has not been announced, though it likely depends in at least some part on how well those first few areas go. There will likely be some building, enhancing, and troubleshooting to do in the first few areas once they go live, optimizing the connections before moving on to another group of metros to activate in.