Having gotten its Snapdragon 855 system on chip and related 5G modem and antenna announcements largely out of the way in 2018, Qualcomm’s press event at CES 2019 was designed to assure consumers that 2019 will be “the year of 5G” — an opportunity to spotlight partnerships. The company now says that over 30 5G devices, mostly smartphones, will launch in 2019.
According to Qualcomm, the company has won almost all of the chip contracts underlying 5G deployments for 2019 — a claim that appears to track with announcements we’ve heard from individual OEMs, but which may be challenged by 5G modem-making rival Intel at its own CES press conference this week.
During Qualcomm’s 5G Summit in December, both Verizon and AT&T announced that they will be releasing Samsung-developed 5G smartphones in 2019 — notably using Qualcomm 5G modems. Though Samsung has its own 5G modem, Qualcomm’s chip and antenna hardware appears to be better suited to millimeter wave 5G deployments in the United States, so Samsung will be using Snapdragon modems in at least some of its U.S. smartphones. Smaller rival Sprint announced today that it will also offer a Samsung 5G smartphone, which will use 2.5 GHz radio spectrum instead of millimeter wave, and T-Mobile will apparently use Intel’s 5G mobile platform in a 600 MHz smartphone.
It’s worth noting that one year ago, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said on stage at a 2018 CES panel discussion that he expected to be able to hold up a live 5G smartphone during this year’s keynotes. Amon showed a live 5G phone prototype late last year, and its Snapdragon X50 modem was announced as a component of the 5G Moto Mod accessory to the Motorola Moto Z3 phone.
But the CEO has not yet appeared on stage at 2019’s CES with an actual completed 5G smartphone. Instead, the press conference was focused substantially on Qualcomm cellular vehicle-to-anything (C-V2X) communication chips for vehicular safety, which Ford said that it will roll out in 2022.