You may want to hold off buying a 5G phone until 2020

Image Credit: Qualcomm

We know that 5G will officially launch in 2019, but the first 5G phones to hit the market this year could be quickly outshone by 5G devices launched towards the end of 2019 and into 2020.

Smartphone chipset maker Qualcomm has announced its second generation 5G modem, the Snapdragon X55, which it claims is the world's first capable of 7Gbps.

What does that mean for you? Even faster internet speeds, allowing you to download movies, apps, TV shows, games and music in seconds, although you're unlikely to see that top-end 7Gbps speed instantly as networks continue to develop their 5G experience.

However, the more exciting feature of the X55 is its flexibility. Whereas Qualcomm's first 5G modem (the Snapdragon X50) was developed with smartphones in mind, the Snapdragon X55 is designed to work in pretty much any application.

That means we could see the second generation 5G modem make its way into a host of phones, Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops, tablets, autos, IoT devices and more - helping the premise of 5G being something that can connect far more items than just phones and tablets.

Super support

The Snapdragon X55 is also the first modem to support standalone 5G networks, allowing your phone to carry out all its tasks over the speedy connection.

Most 5G phones which arrive in 2019 and use the X50 or rival modems will be non-standalone, where they connect to both the 5G and 4G connections, with the former used for data and the latter for the phone's main connection to the network.

The X55 also supports virtually any band in any region around the world, which means manufacturers shouldn't have to produce different variants for different regions to cope with specific network demands.

Qualcomm expects the first Snapdragon X55 devices to hit the market before the end of the year - so we could see it feature in handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or Google Pixel 4, but the X55 will likely really take hold in 2020's flagship devices.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.