The days of 4G are slowly coming to an end — for smartphone manufacturers, at least.
Five days after Qualcomm announced its second gigabit LTE modem for mobile phones, Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE unveiled the Gigabit Phone — the world’s first 5G smartphone — at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. The phone is a prototype and theoretically allows network download speeds up to 1Gbps.
ZTE calls the Gigabit Phone a forward-looking device that’s built for the “5uper Generation.” The Gigabit Phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a chipset that features Qualcomm’s first 5G modem, the Snapdragon X16.
The X16 offers download speeds that are “up to 10 times as fast as first generation 4G LTE devices,” according to Qualcomm.
For Canadians, however, the Qualcomm chip and Gigabit Phone represent a look into the distant future. That’s because all modern Canadian LTE service providers are unable to offer speeds that could fully utilize the Gigabit Phone’s maximum potential.
Earlier this year, U.K.-based OpenSignal conducted a report on the average network speeds delivered by Canada’s top wireless service providers, revealing that the national ‘Big Three’ providers averaged speeds slower than 20 Mbps.
Bell’s average speeds were 19.92Mbps, Rogers’s speeds were 17.75Mbps, while Telus’s average speeds were 17.24Mbps.
In Quebec and Saskatchewan, regional providers Videotron and Sasktel averaged 4G speeds greater than 27Mbps — still falling short of 1Gbps.
For now, however, the ZTE Gigabit Phone serves as an example of the kind of technology consumers can expect to utilize in the future, and the kind of technology that smartphone manufacturers are starting to think about.