The Exynos Modem 5100 is a new single-chip unit that, as well as delivering the super-fast power of 5G with support for multi-mode communication, also supports legacy technologies currently in widespread use in the commercial phone market, such as 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE, opening up the tantalising possibility that Samsung's first 5G smartphone is much, much closer than anyone imagined.
The dramatic 5G reveal came courtesy of a post today on Samsung's official Newsroom, where the South Korean maker also stated, in news that is sure to worry Huawei who is also racing to release a 5G phone, that:
“Samsung’s leadership in communication technologies and market-proven knowledge allowed us to develop the industry’s first 5G modem. As the industry prepares the shift toward 5G, Samsung will continue to drive the growth of innovative ideas and new services in mobile applications.”
Now, this development naturally raises the question: what will Samsung's first 5G phone be?
At first many reports indicated that the Samsung Galaxy S10 was to be the maker's first 5G phone. However, only a few days ago did Samsung CEO, DJ Koh, come out and rather cryptically note that the S10 would not be the first 5G phone released by the company.
So why won't the S10 be Samsung's first 5G phone? That's unclear at the moment. Koh's comment could mean that the S10 will not feature 5G. Or it could mean that another 5G phone will be released in advance of the Galaxy S10 and the S10 will still be a 5G phone, just not Samsung's first.
There are definite reasons why the new modem might not feature in the Galaxy S10, foremost among these being the size of the chip (which is reportedly quite large), as well as heat, with the extra power of the chip potentially leading to cooling issues within current smartphone designs.
This leads to the conclusion that the first 5G phone Koh is hinting at has a different form factor, such as the much-rumoured Samsung Galaxy X folding phone (this has also been reported as the Galaxy F).
The Samsung folding phone is reportedly slated for an unveiling in January 2019, too, maybe with a sneak peak at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, so this lines up in terms of time frame to be the first, and ticks the different form factor box as well.
Another possibility is that Samsung releases the 5G Galaxy X after a 4G Galaxy S10 (which will almost certainly get an official unveiling at Mobile World Congress). But that would leave at least three months of 2019 empty for another maker, such as Huawei or Sony and its 5G Xperia, to steal the world's first 5G phone crown.
Or how about a particularly unlikely scenario: holding the 5G modem back for inclusion in the Galaxy Note 10? With the Note series typically launching in August, that would mean Samsung would be sitting on a 5G modem for an entire year, which doesn't sound at all realistic.
That means, aside from Samsung pulling another phone we currently know nothing about out of its hat late this year or very early in 2019, that indicates that the firm's 5G tech currently looks set to launch in the Galaxy X.
Hopefully we'll find out more soon, as we for one can't wait for the era of 5G to arrive.