With next-generation 5G cellular network launches just around the corner, the biggest missing component is a 5G-ready smartphone that can actually be used on the networks. Lenovo is apparently ready to remedy the omission: It has claimed that it will be the first company to launch a 5G smartphone, using a currently unannounced Qualcomm chip.
In a now-deleted post on China’s Weibo, Lenovo VP Chang Cheng said that the company will offer the world’s first 5G mobile phone, based upon a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset. While Qualcomm hasn’t officially debuted the Snapdragon 855, it is believed to have been in production since June, which would conceivably enable it to appear in late 2018 or early 2019 phones.
Qualcomm announced early this year that it has signed 5G modem and Snapdragon chip agreements with 19 cellular device makers. It subsequently said that it is working to help unspecified customers bring their first 5G devices to market as early as the end of this year, though it expects most will debut their 5G phones next year. The company could announce the Snapdragon 855 at a planned Snapdragon event in December, or earlier.
Lenovo could introduce the 5G phone under its own name or under Motorola’s, as it acquired the storied cell phone maker from Google in 2014. While Cheng’s comments point to a single device with integrated 5G, Motorola has spent around two years working on a “5G Moto Mod” attachment that will add 5G capabilities to a 4G phone — now widely believed to be the Moto Z3.
Motorola is expected to officially debut the Moto Z3 and the 5G Moto Mod tomorrow at an event in Chicago, so there’s potential for a further 5G announcement there. It’s also possible that Lenovo will integrate 5G into its self-branded line of large-screened “Phab” phones or debut a completely new device to house the technology. Until the company makes an official announcement, timing and pricing for the first 5G phone will likely remain unclear.