Qualcomm tests 5G network on a mobile device, for the first time ever

Thanks to Qualcmomm, the first 5G phone is here. While you won’t be able to buy this exact device yourself, it’s proof that 5G will be ready to go mobile by its official 2019 start date.

When it comes to 5G networks, there’s something beyond pure speed to get excited about.

In addition to providing simply faster speeds, 5G networks also will meet new use cases, such as the Internet of Things (internet connected devices), as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communication in times of natural disaster.

The next-generation cellular technology known as 5G is expected to be a very big deal. Qualcomm paid for a research paper created by David Teece, professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and market researcher IHS Markit to assess the impact of 5G mobile technology — which Qualcomm is playing a big hand in bringing about — on the economy. That report said 5G would create 22 million jobs and $12.3 trillion in impact on goods and services by 2035.

Right now, 5G devices tend to be at least the size of a breadbox. Qualcomm is showing off a single-chip 5G modem, the X50, and a tiny millimeter-wave antenna designed to capture the extremely high frequencies on which some 5G will be transmitted.

As for its 5G reference device, it’s the first proof we’ve seen that the X50 chip can fit inside a smartphone. Don’t judge its looks too harshly, though. Reference designs aren’t usually very pretty — they’re more of a testbed for how other companies can deploy Qualcomm’s technology.