Moto Z3 is officially the first 5G phone in the world, beating Samsung by 2 days

Image credit: TechRadar

Verizon had planned to turn on its 5G mobile service in parts of two cities (Chicago and Minneapolis) on April 11, but suddenly activated it a week early, the telecom announced

Now, the telecom’s customers who have 5G-capable phones can enjoy the promised fast speeds of its next-gen network - and the only one available is the Motorola Moto Z3, which was released last August, equipped with a 5G Moto Mod, which is being released today.

The Mod had been up for preorder on Motorola’s site but - as of this writing - isn’t available there just yet. Verizon announced its availability in stores and on the telecom’s site for $199 (around £151, AU$279) discount, which is typically $349 retail. But you'll have to be a Verizon subscriber to even purchase a 5G mod, it seems.

While 5G has been hyped to achieve up to 1 Gpbs download speeds, Verizon is lowering that expectation by promising average speeds of up to 450 Mbps, though that may improve as the telecom’s network matures. 

Customers with any Verizon unlimited plan (Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited) can access 5G networks for an additional $10 per month, and the first three months of 5G data are free.

 So where can I use it? 

Per Verizon’s site, customers with a compatible phone can access 5G coverage today in these Chicago neighborhoods/areas: The Loop, Magnificent Mile, The Gold Coast, River North, and Old Town. Customers in Minneapolis can access 5G in Downtown West, Downtown East, and Elliot Park.

Once someone moves beyond those 5G zones, their phones will automatically switch to Verizon’s 4G LTE network.  

Verizon is planning to expand its 5G service to over 30 cities in 2019. 

Which phones can I to use on Verizon’s 5G network? 

As far as the list of Verizon 5G compatible phones goes, only the Moto Z3 with the attached 5G Moto Mod is available now. Later this quarter (in ‘spring’), Verizon will be the first carrier to sell the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone. 

While that flagship device is expected to have far better performance than the Moto Z3, it’s also expected to cost a lot - and while we don’t have a price yet, the S10 Plus starts at $999 / £899 (about AU$1,398) and the 5G version has superior specs.

The LG V50 ThinQ will also be available on Verizon’s 5G network later in 2019. While that phone looks almost identical to the LG V40 released last year, it’ll pack the latest Snapdragon 855 processor, a larger 4,000mAh battery and a vapor chamber to keep the phone cool during intensive sessions.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.