23 April 2019
Xiaomi officials have described the company's latest product, the Mi Mix 3, as “one of the first 5G smartphones in the world”. The device will have 10GB of RAM. Photo: YouTube
Xiaomi officials have described the company's latest product, the Mi Mix 3, as “one of the first 5G smartphones in the world”. The device will have 10GB of RAM. Photo: YouTube

Phone makers bet on 5G for growth

With the advent of the fifth generation of mobile communications technology, leading chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. said at least six smartphone makers will be launching their 5G products by the end of this year. China’s Xiaomi Corp could be one of them.

On Thursday Xiaomi is scheduled to launch its latest smartphone, Mi Mix 3, its flagship product for the year-end shopping season which is positioned to directly compete with Huawei Technologies’ Mate 20 series.

Xiaomi officials revealed on social media that Mix 3 will support the 5G network. A promotional poster describes Mix 3 as “one of the first 5G smartphones in the world”. The device will have 10GB of RAM.

The new Xiaomi phone is expected to use Qualcomm X50 data chip for the 5G network connection. Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said Lenovo, OPPO, Vivo, Wingtech, ZTE and Xiaomi will announce their 5G smartphone products before the end of this year, and there will be at least two flagship models.

More manufacturers will launch 5G products next year. They include ASUS, Fujitsu, HMD Global, HTC, Inseego/Novatel Wireless, LG, Motorola, NetComm, Oneplus, OPPO, Sharp, Sierra Wireless, and Sony.

Qualcomm said it will be able to further integrate the X50 data chip function into its computing platform and provide it through the system single-chip (SoC) design form.

In Hong Kong, the government said it will start assigning the 5G spectrum at high-frequency bands in 2019, and will hold an auction for sub-6 GHz 5G spectrum later that year.

Many markets have been preparing for a long time for the introduction of 5G service. US mobile operator Verizon has launched its 5G service in several cities such as Boston. AT&T will also launch 5G service by the end of this year to meet customers’ need for faster internet speed and bigger network capacity. Europe, China, Australia, Japan and South Korea will launch 5G next year.

These markets will join the 5G networking application development competition, and use the frequency band below 6 GHz or millimeter wave to expand the 5G networking application.

Qualcomm’s X50 data chip can simultaneously support the two connection modes.

The arrival of 5G comes while the global smartphone market is suffering from sluggish growth. This year, phone makers have failed to introduce outstanding features in their new models that would convince users to upgrade.

In China, smartphone shipments in the second quarter fell 7 percent from a year earlier, the fourth consecutive quarter of decline.

James Yan, research director at Counterpoint Research, said consumers have been holding on to their smartphones for a long time because they can’t see any major difference between the new models and their current phones.

This year, phone makers have introduced several features such as 3D face unlock, artificial intelligence, and on-device machine learning to lure customers to upgrade their phones.

It is believed that new smartphones with Gigabit LTE and 5G connectivities could drive another wave of upgrades.

China has been a front-runner in 5G development and is planning a commercial rollout of the service as early as next year. This year, the government has authorized carriers to test the technology in major cities across the country. In fact, state-run telcos have been deploying 5G networks in 16 cities to trial the technology.

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, plans to carry out field tests in the cities of Hangzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou, and Wuhan and deploy more than 100 base stations in these cities. The company also said it will conduct 5G network application demonstrations in 12 cities including Beijing, Chengdu, and Shenzhen.

Qualcomm will continue to add more wireless network bands to support 5G networks, which will enable new applications such as animal networking, car networking, and artificial intelligence.

Phone makers will surely benefit from the 5G upgrade.

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EJ Insight writer

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