We're hearing a lot about the future of wireless connectivity, and specifically 5G, but when will it happen on a mass scale? Two things need to occur—wireless carriers need to aggressively roll out and expand their 5G networks, and phone makers have to implement compatible hardware. Android device makers are powerless when it comes to the former, but as for the hardware, Qualcomm says "every Android vendor is working on 5G right now."
It's been a little slow going so far, mainly because there is no need to drive up the cost of a phone by implementing hardware that, for the most part, won't be utilized. Related to that, 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), the standards body that makes the rules for wireless connectivity, only completed rules for standalone 5G a few months ago.
Where does Qualcomm factor into all of this? Qualcomm is the largest supplier of mobile processors for Android phones (it just announced its Snapdragon 855 SoC), and it also offers a 5G modem, the Snapdragon X50 5G NR.
"When we get to exactly this time of year one year from now… we will see every [handset maker] on the Android ecosystem, their flagship across all US carriers will be a 5G device," Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon told CNET at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii. "Every Android vendor is working on 5G right now."
If that's true, it would set up an interesting scenario where the Android market at large can boast 5G support, while Apple potentially sits on the sideline—it's rumored that Apple won't release a 5G-capable smartphone until 2020.
This might not be a big deal, depending on what kind of progress AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon make with their 5G network roll outs in the next year. However, it could sway some users who have no real preference between Android or iOS, and just want the best set of features on their next smartphone.