5G is here with us. By here, we mean, 5G networks are extensively being trialled around the world and some are already available for use in certain regions. Like Korea, for instance.
On our continent, the story is a bit different. The very first consumer-ready 5G networks are expected down South where MTN’s network infrastructure is being developed by Swedish networking and telecommunications company Ericsson.
While the very first 5G smartphones are expected to hit the continent over the next few weeks, according to the IDC, they won’t have reached any critical mass even in a year’s time.
Much as the critical 5G network infrastructure that is yet to be laid down will be largely to blame for that, the prices of 5G smartphones won’t make it any easy for the early adopters either. So far, 5G smartphones cost an arm and a leg and the technology is mainly limited to exclusive variants of already pricey flagship devices.
This is why Samsung’s latest announcement, involving its Galaxy A series which is already a best-seller on the continent a big contributor to its hold of the African smartphone market by dollar value, is important.
Samsung has today officially announced the Galaxy A90 5G.
Initially, the device will be made available in Samsung’s home market, Korea, but the company also says that it will be making its way to “additional markets thereafter”.
This may not mean much to us (as Kenyans and as Africans) but it is definitely the start of something that is going to gain a lot of momentum over the next 12 months as everyone races to capture as much market share as possible: “mid-range” 5G smartphones.
Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek took the stage at Computex 2019 to reveal a new SoC that we will be seeing in future budget smartphones that includes an Helio M70 5G modem. The new modem, which supports up to 4.7Gbps downlink speeds and 2.5Gbps uplink speeds in addition to support for the existing 2G, 3G and 4G networks, “will be ready for lead customer samples in Q3 of 2019 and be in commercial devices by Q1 of 2020.”
The Samsung Galaxy A90 5G comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 5G chipset (just like we’d heard) with a maximum clock speed of 2.84GHz to “offer people transformative mobile experiences from superior 5G-connectivity to enhanced AI capabilities”.
Other specifications of the device include a 6.7-inch Full HD+ Infinity-U display, a tri-camera setup on the back (48MP main, 5MP for depth-sensing and 8MP for up to 123° ultra-wide shots), a 32-megapixel selfie camera (no pop-up camera, as the leaks had intimated), 6 or 8GB RAM, 128GB internal storage, a 4,500mAh battery unit that can be juiced up faster with a 25W adapter (not exactly what we thought it would be) and an on-screen fingerprint sensor.
That is not all. The Galaxy A90 5G borrows a lot from the flagship lineup it plays second fiddle to, especially the Galaxy Note 10 that launched last month. It features the Live Focus mode found on the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 on its front-facing 32-megapixel shooter. It is also the first Galaxy A-series smartphone to launch with support for Samsung’s desktop experience interface, DeX. It also includes Microsoft’s Your Phone (available on the Play Store as well) right out of the box for users to mirror their phone displays to their PCs in order to access notifications, send and receive messages, browse through their image galleries and so on.
There is no pricing information for the device available, yet.
Seeing as it is that Samsung’s attractive 2019 Galaxy A smartphone lineup has been key to its growth in Africa, will the Galaxy A90 5G, and not the flagship variants of the likes of the Galaxy S10 and Note 10, be the device the company fronts for its 5G debut on the continent?