5G phones at Mobile World Congress 2019

The first batch of 5G phones is here, but which ones are worth it?

After years of talk, the era of 5G is finally upon us. This time around, you couldn’t take more than a few steps on the MWC show floor without bumping into someone driving a delivery truck via 5G, or seeing a man remotely directing a surgery across town thanks to 5G’s ultra-low latency. (In case you hadn’t heard, MWC is weird.) For most of us though, 5G just means faster data for our smartphones, so we wanted to take a moment to dig into what the 5G phones we found in Barcelona really bring to the table.

The inexpensive one: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G

5G devices will become broadly accessible in a few years, once carriers are further along in their network deployments. In the short term, though, few people will really get to benefit from the sort of improved data speeds those networks can provide — is it really any surprise, then, that the 5G devices we’ve seen so far tend to be pricey?

Of the few 5G devices at MWC that have official price tags, Xiaomi’s 5G Mi Mix 3 will hurt wallets the least: it’s set to launch later this year for under the equivalent of $700, making it even less expensive than some of the non-5G phones at the show. The phone’s foundation isn’t new — it’s basically last year’s Mi Mix 3 slider with a Snapdragon 855 and an X50 modem — but it’s still a compelling little package. (Especially if you’re fond of slider phones, like I am.) This relatively low price tag does come with a caveat, though: The phone only supports sub-6GHz networks, but carriers are ultimately looking at mmWave systems for super-high speeds and low latency. Still, the company expects 5G Mi Mix owners to experience speeds up to ten times as fast as LTE, so it’s probably not a bad stopgap option.

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