A wireless analyst and former Qualcomm product marketer explains his passion for the new Samsung 5G handset
Last week people finally had the opportunity to get their hands on the much-awaited Samsung Galaxy S10 5G—the first true premium 5G smartphone. Reviews are divided between skeptics saying 5G is not yet ready and tech enthusiasts touting what 5G has achieved in a short time. The truth is somewhere in between.
First, I think you should hold the phone, pause, take a depth breath and appreciate this historic moment. There’s been so much of skepticism that we were rushing 5G, millimeter wave (mmwave) bands won’t work, components won’t fit in a small form factor, handsets will lack mobility, they won’t have good battery life, and so much more. This beautiful, shiny phone blew all that away.
But as with deploying any new generation of technology, there are still issues, and the biggest one is coverage. 5G is limited to certain cities and even certain places in them. Some complain you lose coverage if you walk a few steps in one direction or another.
There is no denying these facts. However, you’ve got to consider that it’s only been a few weeks since the launch of the networks. People are seeing significant improvements compared to tests done even a few weeks ago when the Moto 5G mod launched. Verizon, for example, has announced it will bring 5G to 20 more cities by the end of this year.
Questions linger about the feasibility of mmwave bands. The fact is mmwave bands are inevitable to get the capacity and user experience 5G envisions, so the sooner we start building networks using them the better. Remember mmwave bands are not for coverage but for capacity.
The sub-6 GHz for 5G will soon come to support them through spectrum-sharing in Verizon’s case, or through new deployments for others. And it’s worth noting that Verizon prides itself in building a solid network, so its commitment to mmwave says something.
That brings us to the $1,300 question, should you buy a Galaxy S10 5G now? It depends--everybody’s needs are different.
If you are in the market for a new phone, you should absolutely buy it. The typical life of smartphones nowadays is two years or more. With soon to be expanded 5G coverage, you will get ample 5G usage on the phone during that time.
The $300 extra you are paying to get 5G is well worth it for the future proofing it provides. If you want to save money, then you should buy last year’s phone, rather than spend $1,000 on a new 4G-only phone.
If you are an early adopter who enjoys the adrenaline rush of being first to experience new gadgets, the S10 5G is your device. This is an opportunity for you to be associated with an important part of tech history.
Personally, I straddle both of these categories, so I ordered my S10 5G.
Some people are comparing the 5G launch to that of 4G and mistakenly claiming there will be a long maturity cycle. The difference between the 5G and 4G launches couldn’t be starker. The 4G launch was feeble, almost like an experiment. By contrast, the 5G launch is a gigantic global phenomenon with more than 200 operators in more than 80 countries participating. About ten 5G smartphones are already shipping, and 20 more devices are in the pipeline for this year.
To the holdouts and skeptics of 5G, who question my enthusiasm, I can only say, 5G is still like a newborn, don’t complain about feeding and cleaning it. Believe me, this baby will grow up in no time and blow your mind. Wait, my doorbell is ringing, must be the FedEx guy with my Galaxy S10 5G!
— *Prakash Sangam is founder and principal at Tantra Analyst which he founded in 2018 after more than 20 years in the wireless industry at Qualcomm, Ericsson and AT&T. *