What good is it to own a 5G-capable smartphone if there are no 5G networks? That is not a question owners of Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G handset will have to answer, if they live in South Korea. That's because SK Telecom is getting ready to flip the switch on its 5G network, making South Korea the first county to commercially off 5G wireless services.
The advantage of true 5G is that it offers much faster speeds compared to 4G LTE—it is up to 20 times faster, with download speeds peaking at 20 gigabits per second (Gbps) or higher. 5G also offers lower latencies, advanced management features (of interest to wireless carriers), improved security, and a few other goodies, such as increased capacity.
This is not to be confused with ATT's faux 5G service that it calls 5G E, which is basically Advanced LTE. On a true 5G network, richer mobile experiences are possible. And for the time being, South Korea has bragging rights.
"It is meaningful that South Korean telecom companies are providing services and networks meeting South Korean customers’ high standard in speed and picture quality," said Ryu Young-sang, executive vice president at SK Telecom.
The importance of 5G extends well beyond smartphones and into things like autonomous vehicles and the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) category. However, as 5G takes hold, you can bet there will be more handsets with 5G radios inside.
Samsung is one of the first with a 5G variant of its flagship Galaxy S10. The high-end device pairs a 6.7-inch Quad HD+ curved AMOLED display with a Exynos 9820 processor (the US variant will sport a Snapdragon 855 processor), 8GB of RAM, and 256GB or 512GB of onboard storage. Of course, the stand out feature is 5G connectivity.
"With speeds up to roughly 20 times faster than 4G networks, consumers on a 5G network can download a full season of a TV show in minutes, play graphics-rich cloud games, stream 4K video with virtually no lag, and enjoy enhanced VR and AR experiences. Additionally, 5G will unite more than 1 million devices per square kilometer transforming how consumers live, communicate and work by connecting not only smartphones but vehicles, factories, offices and cities as well," Samsung says.
While South Korea is the first out of the gate with a commercial 5G network, the US is not far behind—Verizon, for example, intends to light up a pair of cities with 5G connectivity in the second week of April.