The first 5G phones are already here, with several vendors having launched their first-gen 5G devices. But most 5G phones are more expensive than their 4G counterparts, and a few key smartphone vendors haven’t yet released any phones that support 5G. Apple and Google just released new smartphones that only support LTE and we’ll have to wait one more year for the first 5G iPhone and Pixel phones to hit stores — Apple is already rumored to be testing 5G in the iPhone 12. Microsoft recently decided it’s time to give smartphones a third chance, and it will launch a couple of dual-screen devices in late 2020, including the Surface Neo Windows tablet and Surface Duo Android handset. Both devices will support always-on cellular connectivity, but they won’t do 5G. Yet.
Microsoft’s hardware chief Panos Panay spoke at an event in Berlin earlier this week, per WinFuture, revealing the company does want to release 5G versions of the Neo and Duo. But it’ll take some time to get there.
Panay said that both dual-screen devices will support LTE-Advanced at launch, but that both of them will be “future 5G devices.” No timetable has been given for the release of 5G Neos and Duos, but 2021 makes sense considering that the first-gen Neo and Duo are supposed to hit stores late next year.
Microsoft only unveiled the Neo and Duo this year because it needs support from developers to create dual-screen experiences for foldable Windows and Android devices. Therefore, it’s too early to say what the foldable Surface tablet and smartphone will have to offer in terms of specs, or whether Microsoft wants to wait for newer chips before bringing 5G to the Neo and Duo series. WinFuture speculates that the Snapdragon 855 chip that powers this year’s 5G phones might not meet Microsoft’s needs for its dual-screen devices, and the company may be waiting for next-gen chips that will come with built-in 5G modems. Also, as with Apple, Microsoft might want to wait for 5G coverage to expand before launching 5G devices.
Samsung and Huawei both launched real foldable handsets this year, and the Galaxy Fold and Mate X both come in 5G versions. Next year’s high-end foldable handsets will likely pack 5G components as well. meanwhile, next year’s iPhone 12 is rumored to sport a massive redesign complete with 5G support. Apple is also developing its own 5G modems that will one day equip future iPhones.