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Sony will make a 5G phone, but only when the tech rolls out

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Think that Sony isn't interested in 5G just because the Sony Xperia 1 doesn't support it? Think again. 

Sony is showing off a new prototype 5G device at MWC 2019, and the company has confirmed to TechRadar it won't be pursuing 5G in the consumer space until 5G is fully offered by mobile networks.

Instead of packing it inside a commercially available phone - think LG V50, Huawei Mate X or Samsung Galaxy S10 5G - the company is showing off a prototype that's never intended to come to market.

Patience at Sony

The device is being shown on both Sony and Qualcomm's booths at the show. The prototype is sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855, which is the same chipset as inside the Xperia 1. 

The Snapdragon 855 is capable of supporting 5G - that's the chipset inside the LG V50 - so why won't Sony's latest flagship support 5G?

Mitsuya Kishida, President of Sony Mobile told TechRadar, "Obviously, we are heavily cooperating with our partners to develop for 5G, and depending on the country and the customers need we will introduce the 5G model accordingly. 

"It will be a separate model and depend on the country, again. How to introduce the solution is going to be different for our customers."

However, he did confirm that Sony was intending to have a device on the market when the 5G wave of phones fully begins.

Whether that means we'll see a variant of the Xperia 1 - much like how Xiaomi has plans to rereleased the Mi Mix 3 with a new 5G version - or a completely new phone remains to be seen.

It's also a benefit of Sony's schedule of releasing a new flagship phone every six months too.

"Being the first in 5G... that’s not what we’re trying to achieve."

Mitsuya Kishida, President Sony Mobile

By the time 5G begins its rollout later this year, Sony may be ready to introduce the Xperia 2 that is likely to still sport the Snapdragon 855 but may be ready with 5G compatibility. 

Kishida continued, "Being the first in 5G... that’s not what we’re trying to achieve. I’m really happy that our engineering skill and the speed of development towards 5G, I’m very comfortable with that."

One of the other reasons for Sony avoiding 5G at this stage is also down to the effect it can have on the design of the phone too.

Silke Schild, head of external communications at Sony Mobile told TechRadar, "We don’t want to compromise on the design [of the Xperia 1] either, integrating additional antennas etcetera."

That may mean the next phone from Sony is set to be thicker and heavier so it can support 5G, but we likely won't know that for quite a while now and it may be IFA 2019 at the earliest for us to next hear about a flagship Sony handset.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

Gareth Beavis
Gareth Beavis

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.