Chinese smartphone maker ZTE Corp. aims to launch a smartphone with faster 5G internet capabilities in about a year, according to Lixin Cheng, chief executive officer of the company’s mobile device business.
The device would be introduced in the U.S. at the end of 2018 or early 2019, Cheng said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Plans may change based on the availability of fifth-generation networks and the supply of the necessary chipsets. Cheng said it would be a smartphone, but also noted that a 5G tablet or wireless-internet hub for homes were possibilities, too.
AT&T Inc. said earlier this month that it plans 5G phone service in about a dozen cities this year, without naming any specifically. Qualcomm Inc. has talked up new chips it will sell to enable this faster wireless connectivity. Without those ingredients, ZTE and most other phone makers will struggle to offer viable 5G gadgets.
The market leaders haven’t revealed plans for 5G smartphones, but Samsung announced a partnership with Verizon Wireless this month to bring 5G internet to people’s homes in some parts of California. Last year, the U.S. government granted Apple permission to begin testing 5G networking, implying that the Cupertino, California giant is exploring an iPhone that can connect to 5G networks.
— By Mark Gurman, with assistance by Scott Moritz, and Ian King