Verizon today officially set the first U.S. release date for Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G phone — May 16, 2019 — and named 20 additional 5G cities, while also announcing changes to its 5G data plans. The standout change: There are now only two 5G plans, down from three, and the least expensive option is disappearing.
Even compared with prior expectations, the Galaxy S10 5G is going to be pricey: a full $1,300 for the 256GB model or $1,400 for the 512GB version. The phone is expected to launch first on Verizon in the United States before becoming available from other carriers. Preorders begin today, with Verizon claiming Majestic Black as an exclusive color and Crown Silver as an alternate option.
Verizon also named 20 of the next cities where it will launch 5G “Ultra Wideband” service in 2019. The list includes quite a few major metropolitan areas — Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C. — in addition to the previously announced Chicago and Minneapolis.
It’s worth noting that the carrier did not commit to launch dates for any of these newly named cities, and they’re not hugely surprising. Verizon had previously said it would launch mobile 5G in 30 cities during 2019. Consequently, today’s list brings a little more clarity to the question of where Verizon’s 5G will become available this year but stops short of expanding the list of places the Galaxy S10 5G will actually be usable on May 16. Early S10 5G users in South Korea have complained about limited 5G coverage and problems switching between 4G and 5G networks, issues that could also affect users of Verizon’s nascent mobile 5G service.
While the company confirmed that it will belatedly bring mobile 5G to two of its earliest fixed 5G cities, Houston and Indianapolis, it offered no further word on the other early 5G cities, Los Angeles and Sacramento, where its 5G rollout reportedly stalled with modest coverage. Customers in those four cities can currently only get prestandard 5G hardware from Verizon for home broadband service.
Another disappointment: The company said today that it will only be offering 5G service on its Above Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans, which means that it has eliminated 5G on its more affordable Go Unlimited plan. The carrier said only last month that it would offer 5G in three tiers — ranging from $85 to $105. But as an offset “for a limited time,” the $10 5G add-on will be included in the Above and Beyond Unlimited plans for free, temporarily negating the price change.
Verizon appears to be aware that the high 5G prices could sting, so it is offering incentives — a $200 prepaid Mastercard for switchers, a $450 old smartphone trade in, free Samsung Galaxy Buds, and a free Samsung Wireless Charging Battery Pack — to sweeten the deal for preorder customers. Customers can also choose to pay off either S10 5G model over two years rather than buying it outright on day one. Whether that’s enough to offset the cost of a $1,300 to $1,400 phone and over $1,000 in annual data fees will be up to you.