ZTE Gigabit prototype claims to be the world's fastest smartphone, but you can't buy one.

In an early contender for the strangest announcement of MWC 2017, ZTE has announced a phone that it claims is the fastest 5G phone, but which has no case and no likelihood of coming to market. 

ZTE says the ZTE Gigabit is the first phone to reach blazingly fast 5G speeds – but don't hold your breath for the chance to buy one. This is very much a proof of concept right now – which means it's a collection of components. 

The ZTE Gigabit phone is apparently able to reach download speeds of 1Gbps, or 10 times current smartphone speeds, according to the Chinese phone manufacturer behind the Axon 7 (pictured above). 

Speaking ahead of the official start of MWC, the Chinese company talked about the phone without actually showing it off. 

While ZTE said the phone is not currently "in a case", it claimed it would be a "commercial offering in one or two years", with some of the technology likely to appear in the company's next Axon flagship phone in the meantime. 

ZTE says it reached the speed milestone by independently developing a Pre5G Giga+ MBB solution and compatible smart devices in advance of what it has rather awkwardly named “the upcoming 5uper Generation”.

We’ve been hearing 5G a lot at MWC this year, but it's mostly been in relation to expanding connectivity to all sorts of internet of things devices. 

ZTE Gigabit specs

With Qualcomm’s X16 advanced modem onboard, the Gigabit phone is able to take advantage of carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO antenna technology and 256-QAM modulation.

It’s also the first to tout the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset and the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, ahead of the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

That said, Samsung next flagship is going to actually come to market.

Just the beginning

ZTE says its Gigabit Phone is “three times as powerful at improving data processing capability in the current [4G LTE] network”. 

Setting aside the nature of the 'phone', that’s going to be important as we all transition from 4G to 5G. It’s supposed to provide worldwide carriers with the first Pre 5G solutions, an initial bridge to 5G.  

Going forward, download speeds of up to 1Gbps will become the standard on 5G networks and, then, “mobile experiences on smart devices will be enhanced to an unimaginable level”, envisions ZTE.

“Speeds of up to 1Gbps will improve users’ lifestyles by allowing for 360-degree panoramic VR video, instant cloud storage, entertainment upgrades and fast cache of ultra Hi-Fi music and movies.”

Streaming will also become the norm for more than just video, too. It'll also allow for 'instant apps', which will remove the need for downloading or installation of applications.

However, you'll have to wait for 5G to become a reality in 2018 to see these speed benefits outside of Barcelona and MWC.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition 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 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.