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Phones

Samsung, Verizon will partner on 5G smartphone in first half of 2019

The device will use processors from Qualcomm, which is hosting a conference this week in Hawaii.

Josh Miller/CNET

One of the world's first 5G phones will be coming to the US from Samsung and Verizon

The two companies on Monday said they plan to bring a device able to tap into next-generation cellular technology to the US market in the first half of 2019. They didn't give details about what the device will look like, what it will be called or how much it will cost. 

Instead, Samsung and Verizon plan to show off a concept device this week at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii. The phone features Qualcomm's yet-to-be-unveiled mobile processor, as well as the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and Qualcomm antenna modules. 

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The phone "is the result of years of collaboration to deploy an end-to-end solution for commercial 5G services using Samsung network equipment and personal devices," the companies said in a press release. 

The phone is the latest trickle of news for 5G, which is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage and responsiveness of wireless networks. It promises to make phones upload and download data 10 to 100 times faster than the typical 4G LTE network today. That could mean downloading movies in seconds, rather than minutes.

The US carriers are in a race to be first with the faster networks -- and woo the biggest handset makers. A version of 5G is already in limited availability as Verizon's home internet service in four markets, and its 5G mobile network will go live in early 2019. 

The partnership with Samsung is the second 5G phone already announced for Verizon's 5G network. In August, Motorola said that in early 2019 it will release a 5G "Mod," or module, that attaches to the back of the Moto Z3. The Mod would let it run on the faster wireless network. 

Samsung didn't say whether the yet-to-be-unveiled phone will be exclusive to Verizon or if it also will sell the same device through other networks providers. Samsung simply said in a statement that it will continue to work with other carrier partners.

The announcements for 5G devices have so far been vague. Sprint in August said it would launch the first 5G smartphone in the US, but offered few details.

When Samsung first got into phones, it created a different model for each carrier -- or at least gave them different names. The Galaxy S2 from 2011, for instance, featured a 4.3-inch display for AT&T customers, while the T-Mobile and Sprint versions packed 4.5-inch displays.

But when it launched the Galaxy S3 the following year, Samsung persuaded all major carriers to sell the same device even though they knew that rivals would get the phone as well. That led to Samsung surpassing other Android vendors and becoming the world's biggest phone manufacturer

Samsung continues to hold onto the title, even as it faces tough competition from Chinese vendors such as Huawei and from longtime rival Apple. Next year's flagship device from Samsung, likely called the Galaxy S10, is rumored to come in three models, including one with 5G. 

But the Galaxy S10 may not be Samsung's first 5G phone. Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh in November told Korean reporters that a separate device launching in March on Korean carriers will be its first 5G phone instead.

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