Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi has finally unveiled its first 5G phone.
Presenting to a packed audience at MWC in Barcelona, Xiaomi lifted the lid on the Mi Mix 3 5G, an upgrade to the 4G incarnation it launched late last year. The Mi Mix 3 was Xiaomi’s first slider phone — the little magnetic slider houses various selfie lenses and the antenna.
The device was first announced back in October before going on sale in China the following month, followed by a handful of markets in Southeast Asia. The Mi Mix 3’s broader global rollout kicked off last month, starting with a handful of European markets.
Xiaomi caused a minor stir when it originally pitched the Mi Mix 3 as the world’s first 5G phone — but excitement soon gave way to disappointment when news emerged that the device delivered boring old 4G. At the time, the company said the 5G incarnation would arrive in Europe in the first quarter of 2019, which only led to further disappointment when the Mi Mix 3 that arrived in the U.K. Spain, and Italy last month was still 4G.
Fast-forward to today, and Xiaomi has finally made good on its promise to reveal a bona fide 5G device.
To bring 5G to the fray, Xiaomi has reworked some of the phone’s innards. While the Mi Mix 3 sported a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with the X20 LTE Modem, the 5G version packs the upgraded Snapdragon 855, in addition to Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem — both critical components for 5G phones.
However, Xiaomi has been beaten to the 5G punch by a matter of days. Earlier this week, at the Unpacked 2019 event, Samsung unveiled not one but two 5G devices — the Galaxy S10 5G and the futuristic Galaxy Fold, the latter of which will be available in LTE and 5G incarnations. Oppo also announced its first 5G phone at a separate MWC event yesterday.
5G or not 5G
A number of key trends are likely to emerge in 2019, but just a couple of months into the new year it’s clear that 5G is already driving the hype machine. In the past few days alone, Qualcomm debuted a new Snapdragon X55 modem that should enable slimmer and faster 5G smartphones, while digital security company Gemalto promised it would launch the world’s first 5G SIM card later this year.
The major carriers are still in the process of rolling out their 5G coverage in the U.S. and elsewhere, but as more 5G-compatible smartphones arrive on the market, the pressure for mobile networks to expedite their infrastructure development will only increase.
While 5G arguably promises greater benefits for smart cities, virtual reality (VR), and internet of things (IoT), it will of course also usher in faster download and upload speeds for mobile phones, as well as enhanced capacity — which means your mobile internet connection should be more stable.
The company says the phone starts at €599 ($680) and will be available sometime in May — this makes the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 the first 5G phone to get an official price.